The Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation (OOF), which the two-time Nigeria leader established as a charity organization in the United Kingdom, has collapsed and is now in liquidation.
An ongoing SaharaReporters investigation found that the UK has terminated the status of the OOF as a charity in the country.
The UK Charity Commission classifies the OOF as both “insolvent” and “in liquidation,” and SaharaReporters learned it has been a non-entity since January this year.
These developments follow a series of investigative reports by SaharaReporters beginning with the release of a video tape depicting the former Vice Chairwoman Anne Welsh agreeing to launder $4.9 million by using the OOF as an illicit front. SaharaReporters also released a transcript of Ms. Welsh’s conversation and plot to commit financial crime.
SaharaReporters also found that the Charity Commission forwarded to the Metropolitan Police of London and to the National Crime Agency, allegations of money laundering first made in May 2015 by SaharaReporters concerning Anne Welsh, who was the Vice Chairwoman of OOF in London.
A May 8, 2015 investigation published by SaharaReporters found that the Charity Commission investigated the OOF for conflict of interest involving its Board of Trustees and Ms. Welsh since 2014.
SaharaReporters reported in a separate investigation on May 12th 2015, that “since its inauguration in 2012, the Obasanjo Foundation has had Olusegun Obasanjo, Anne Chigoziem Welsh, [her husband] Marvin Welsh, and a woman named Temilade Marcella Olatunde as its directors.
SaharaReporters’ investigation has found that Ms. Welsh, Mr. Welsh, and Mr. Obasanjo were financially connected in a number of other companies, along with Temilade Marcella Olatunde.”
It was also found that “between 2011 and 2014, Marvin Welsh, Anne Welsh and Temilade Olatunde all served as directors in New World Capital Ltd, a financial management company. Both former President Obasanjo and Ms. Welsh were also directors in Arise Consult, another financial management company.” New World Capital entered into liquidation, according to the UK Company House online records, on December 8th 2015 several months after SaharaReporters investigations on it.
Our report of May 7, 2015 involved a video of a meeting in the United Kingdom in December 2014, that showed Ms. Welsh in a $4.9 million scheme to exploit West Africa’s Ebola Virus Disease crisis for private gain. The video showed Ms. Welsh, her stepdaughter and personal assistant Sierra Welsh, and two unnamed men discussing ways to secretly launder $4.9 million through the OOF.
The meeting took place in a London hotel room following a Burberry event organized by the OOF to raise money, according to statements made by Ms. Welsh.
In the scheme, she agreed to help a group of supposed “Lebanese businessmen” who would donate $2m to the OOF towards some work in Sierra Leone, in exchange for help in laundering the balance of $2.9m. Ms. Welsh, agreeing to the proposal, brags about her suitability for that sort of collaboration, telling her interlocutors: “I had to go through training, through President Obasanjo, political training for one year to become discreet.”
Following that first investigative report in May 2015, SaharaReporters published several other investigations and reports on Ms. Welsh and the fallout from the incriminating video.
On May 8, 2015 just one day after the first report, SaharaReporters confirmed that Ms. Welsh had been fired from her position on account of the explosive revelations. That same day, we published a story on how Ms. Welsh was deleting all her social media pages, websites, and attempting to sanitize her digital identity.
Nonetheless, her singular act of duplicity, once exposed, had already dug the grave of Obasanjo’s prized OOF.
Renewed online activity by Ms. Welsh, including the reactivation of her Facebook profile, social media sites, and personal websites in recent weeks, indicate a curious determination to rehabilitate her image. Those efforts include allegations that she was a victim of unknown conspirators who aimed to destroy her reputation.
They also include her release of a YouTube video on May 9, 2016, in which she sought to explain her most recent version of the events surrounding the December 2014 video, towards cleansing her public image. Her video arrives nearly one year after our publication of the compromising video in which she agreed to launder money disguised as humanitarian assistance. It is unclear why she waited for over one year to try to reclaim her name.
How Anne Welsh Destroyed the Obasanjo Foundation
In addition to board members sharing financial relationships outside the foundation, thereby creating a conflict of interest, sources close to the OOF disclosed to SaharaReporters that the UK Charity Commission received a complaint that foundation employees were also working on projects for Ms. Welsh’s other companies. Following the complaint, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Commission opened an investigation to see whether foundation personnel resources were being misappropriated by Ms. Welsh for her personal benefit.
In Ms. Welsh’s 2016 video, she says she “brought my assistant” to the meeting with the two other men. That “assistant,” SaharaReporters found in 2015, was actually her stepdaughter, Sierra Welsh. Sources speaking anonymously however disclosed to our correspondents that Sierra was never employed at the OOF, but was associated with one of Ms. Welsh’s other companies at the time. From Ms. Welsh’s own words, it is clear that the work of the foundation work was being integrated into her other financial interests.
Other sources with knowledge of the OOF operations described Ms. Welsh’s management of foundation expenses as irresponsible, pointing how she travelled extensively and lavishly using the OOF’s funds.
According to one of those sources, “Anne Welsh would travel First Class, and only sometimes, Business Class.” This same person said Ms. Welsh, during her trips, checked only into the nicest hotels.
All of those sources were unanimous that Anne Welsh’s international excursions and posh lifestyle, sapped up the foundation’s monetary resources that could have been used for program costs to benefit Africa.
Some people lamented that perhaps Ms. Welsh’s glitzy trips could perhaps have been justified if she successfully raised money for the OOF, but she rarely brought back from her meetings project proposals or even notes.
Anne Welsh Tells A New Tale of Her Money Laundering Allegations
Less than five months after the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation lay in ruins, buried under the weight of Ms. Welsh’s conduct and perfidy, she re-emerged through online profiles, attempting to rebrand herself.
At the center of this effort is the YouTube video entitled, “Anne Welsh Breaks Her Silence.” The video was released on May 9, 2016 on her new channel “Anne Welsh,” where she also goes by the name, “Lady Anne Welsh”. In addition to her tell-all video, the channel depicts fashion and lifestyle clips.
In “Anne Welsh Breaks Her Silence,” she alleges: “On 18th December 2014, Anne Welsh was the victim of a conspiracy to destroy her reputation through a premeditated criminal act. Anne Welsh explains how the event occurred and the scope of activity that the conspirators took to falsify videos and then forward it on to bloggers.”
SaharaReporters ongoing investigation into the matter confirms that Ms. Welsh’s version of events surrounding that December 2014 meeting are false.
In the course of SaharaReporters investigation it was also discovered that, in another step to cleanse her public image, negative comments were deleted from Ms. Welsh’s YouTube video. However SaharaReporters, noting that Ms. Welsh had a history of deleting social media pages, took screenshots of public commenters criticizing her for making this video.
One commenter, John Lulito, told Ms. Welsh that he was a parole officer and strongly sensed she was lying:
Tania Yates, another commenter, described Ms. Welsh as “an absolute disgrace” and noted that she described more about events leading to the meeting that what actually took place:
Prior to SaharaReporters publishing its May 7, 2015 report, this platform spoke extensively with Ms. Welsh to hear her side of the story. This contrasts significantly with her May 9, 2016 YouTube video version of events.
During SaharaReporters 20-minute phone conversation with Ms. Welsh on May 7, 2015, she confirmed several key pieces of information about her discussion of financial crime. Her statements to SaharaReporters in 2015 tell a totally different side of her money laundering conversation that are not included in her new YouTube video.
One example of Ms. Welsh confirming facts found in the video recording released by SaharaReporters, which she now claims to have been doctored, follows our correspondent’s question: “I am speaking specifically [whether you have seen] a video and an audio where it looks like you were accepting money for the purpose of being laundered through the [OOF] foundation?”
Ms. Welsh, after previously saying she had not seen the video, then responded: “No. If you watch that video closely there were two guys […] and I know who one guy was. He came to me and he asked me a question. And I will be very transparent I will give you access to all my accounts I have. […] And he asked me. Then I figured, ‘why give money from Sierra Leone to give to the foundation?’”
It should be noted that, until that point in the conversation, SaharaReporters had not mentioned details of the meeting: how many participants were in the meeting, their gender, or anything relating to Sierra Leone. In other words, the information Ms. Welsh volunteered confirms details of her meeting with the two men and their conversation. It also confirms that she knew at least one man in the video.
Sometime during the conversation, our correspondent said to Ms. Welsh: “The men wanted to have a frank conversation about where the money was going to go and the amount which would be your fee, which I think they said was about 30% the equal of I think $900,000 or so…and I am interested in hearing more about this ‘frank conversation’ you had with these two gentlemen?”
Anne Welsh responded: “Yeah. And it seems like you guys want to report this big story. Yes, that did happen but it didn’t mean anything.”
Ms. Welsh’s 2016 video on YouTube tells a very different version of events. She says, “[The men and I] went to the [hotel] room and one thing led to another. And nothing is as you now see it today. The conversation was purely along the lines of: Anne, we have this money, we want you to help us do the same good work with the foundation to make sure the money gets to the much needed people. And that was the basic conversation.”
Other evidence however shows that the “basic conversation” Ms. Welsh had clearly centered on how to effectively launder the $4.9 million sum of money through the foundation and various banking institutions, not how to ensure victims of Ebola receive much-needed financial or programmatic assistance.
The December 2014 video published by SaharaReporters showed one of the men, speaking to Ms. Welsh, saying: “I don’t give a [expletive] [how you manage the money].” He later said, “Let’s call the final number [before Anne Welsh returned the other part of the money to the men via bank accounts] 2.9, now what are we going to do with the rest?”
Ms. Welsh responds: “Yes, so what should we do with that?”
The unknown speaker says: “Frankly? Frankly?” And he adds: “We want to get our share but how much do we give you?”
After a few moments of conversation Ms. Welsh says, “I know, well I think it should be a good number. At least 30%, think about the hard work I’m going to put into this you’ll be grateful to me.”
During the conversation with the two men, Ms. Welsh explained a money laundering scheme which would include one of her companies Arise Consult. It is worth noting that the Arise Consult company she planned to use to execute this dastardly plot is still active and can be found on Ms. Welsh’s personal website.
Following the release of Ms. Welsh’s YouTube video alleging that there a conspiracy against her, SaharaReporters called her on her phone again. She did not pick up but her spokesperson, who identified herself as Hayley Azeza, called SaharaReporters to speak on Anne’s behalf.
Ms. Azeza alleged that, in addition to Ms. Welsh being the victim of a widespread international conspiracy, the video SaharaReporters published had been falsified and “heavily edited” to distort the former foundation executive’s words. Ms. Azeza then added that in order to conclude that the video was manipulated, “[all you need to do] is get an easy person to look at it.”
When SaharaReporters asked whether Ms. Azeza knew where the video had been manipulated she said, “I cannot tell you where it was edited.” She added, however, that “here its been an official panel who looked at it in the UK,” and concluded that the video was manipulated.
SaharaReporters then requested a copy of the panel report or findings to review but Ms. Azeza responded: “No, don’t worry about the panel. This is beyond the panel.”
She also refused to tell SaharaReporters which experts were on the panel, provide their contact information, and the date the alleged experts convened to render their verdict on the veracity of the video.
Ms. Azeza also told SaharaReporters by phone that prior to our initial investigative report in May 2015, “Anne didn’t even know what [money laundering] means.”
However, this statement contrasts significantly with the conversation SaharaReporters had with Ms. Welsh last year when she specifically said “Money laundering in the UK is the biggest crime ever, that you will ever commit.”
It would also be recalled that, in addition to the 2015 video depicting Ms. Welsh’s plot to launder money, she boasts on her website that “she attended Hertfordshire University as a finance and accounting major” and that she received a “Masters in investment management from the prestigious Cass Business School in London.”
Those credentials, in addition to the companies she’s been involved with, clearly indicate she knows exactly what money laundering and financial crime look like.
It is also of considerable interest that in March 2016, Ms. Welsh contacted SaharaReporters, through a representative, to request an interview to tell her side of the story. However, when SaharaReporters followed up with her representative, our correspondent learned she was no longer interested in the interview. But a few weeks after that exchange, Ms. Welsh posted her YouTube video online.
Only last week, on July 29, 2016, Ms. Welsh again called SaharaReporters to follow up on the news coverage published about her on this platform. During the course of the conversation, she claimed she had been in contact with the London police and had a police report.
Ms. Welsh told SaharaReporters that she would send the police report and the panel findings, still claiming her money laundering video was a fabrication, but had not done so by the time of this publication.
SaharaReporters reached out to the London Metropolitan Police and found that the case officer for some criminal case involving Ms. Welsh is Matthew Harvey. Mr. Harvey had not responded to SaharaReporters’ email by the time of publication.
When asked whether Ms. Welsh could place us in contact with Sierra Welsh, Ms. Welsh responded: “Who’s she?” Anne Welsh then refused to answer any further questions about Sierra.
SaharaReporters reached out to Sierra Welsh, who has also made a foray into internet-based video production with a series of YouTube videos on healthy eating, for a comment on our investigations and reports. Sierra confirmed knowledge of our reporting, confirming that Anne Welsh is her stepmother, and that she did attend the Burberry fundraising event in 2014.
Sierra told SaharaReporters that she was not the person with Ms. Welsh in the December 2014 video, affirming that sources identifying her as that person are wrong. She later denied seeing or knowing about the video published by SaharaReporters.
When SaharaReporters followed up with Ms. Welsh by phone to locate the police report she promised to send, she threated our correspondent, saying she would report us to the police if we called again.