13 April 2016
Temitope Balogun Joshua (popularly known as Prophet TB Joshua) may have predicted Michael Jackson’s death, the 2016 Brussels Bombings and even the end of the world but there’s one thing this prophet didn’t see coming: being exposed along with over 140 personalities around the world for criminal tax evasion in the unfolding #PanamaPapers scandal.
Leaked data of a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, reveals that Pastor TB Joshua and his wife, Evelyn, are among many to have set up offshore accounts in tax havens. Tax havens are countries with ambiguous or vague systems of taxation, encouraging tax evasion and fraud. Under these systems, concealment of assets and income is very easy and such countries are preferred by private individuals and corrupt public officials hiding vast amounts of money that would usually be subject to tax in their own countries. Panama is a Central American country that has been well-known as a tax haven for years. In 1927, Panama passed a law that allowed foreigners to establish tax-free, anonymous corporations with few questions asked, in the 1970s, the country moved into the world of offshore accounts, thereby protecting foreigners.
The duo of the Prophet and his wife set up a pseudo-company, Chillon Consultancy Limited (which has no physical presence and the same address as the agent who registered it), clearly to avoid paying tax. Tax evasion and making false statements and returns is a serious criminal offence in Nigeria under the Personal Income Tax Act of 2004.
TB Joshua is no stranger to this kind of controversy, though. In September 2014, a guesthouse within the church he founded, The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), collapsed, killing 116 people in Lagos.