Monday, 4 April 2016

James Ibori and 4 Other Africans Implicated in #PanamaPapers Tax Avoidance Leak, the Biggest Data Leak in History,

The massive leak of confidential documents described as the Panama Papers has got a lot of politicians and world leaders hot under the collar.

The leak of more than 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca—obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with more than 100 other news organizations—is the biggest data leak in history. The documents show how 143 politicians, including 12 national leaders, have used offshore tax havens and other means to avoid tax and sanctions. 

While the use of offshore facilities is not in itself a crime, the leak could have devastating consequences for many—the Australian Tax Office isinvestigating more than 800 people for possible tax evasion, while world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin andIceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson may also have questions to answer.


Here, Newsweek considers five of the African personalities who have been caught up in the scandal.

1. South Africa: President Jacob Zuma’s nephew

The papers name the nephew of embattled South African President Jacob Zuma, Khulubuse Zuma, as a representative of Caprikat Limited—one of two offshore companies that acquired oilfields in Democratic Republic of Congo in a 100 million rand ($6.8 million) deal in 2010. Caprikat is registered in the British Virgin Islands, the main offshore tax haven involved in the Panama Papers.

Khulubuse’s spokesperson Vuyo Mkhize said on Monday that “Khulubuse does not, and has never held any offshore bank account” and that the Panama Papers simply suggested he was associated with Caprikat, which was a matter of public record.

2. Kenya: Kalpana Rawal, the country’s second-highest judge

Rawal, the Deputy Chief Justice and Deputy President of Kenya’s Supreme Court, has been linked to as many as 11 offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands by the leak. The judge was a director or shareholder of four companies while her husband, Hasmukhrai, held the same position in seven other companies, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported. Three of the companies were used to buy and sell property in the U.K.

The judge has denied any wrongdoing and stated that the practice of registering and running businesses in tax havens is a “perfectly legal and legitimate corporate practice in the U.K.,” where her family are involved in the real estate business.

3. Nigeria: James Ibori, the jailed ex-governor of Nigeria’s oil hub

Ibori served as the governor of Nigeria’s Delta state—a center of the West African country’s vital oil and gas industry —between 1999 and 2007. He was convicted in 2012 for fraud, totaling nearly £50 million ($77 million at the time) by a London court following a complicated extradition procedure after he evaded arrest by Nigerian authorities and fled to Dubai. Ibori is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence in the U.K.

Ibori was linked to four offshore companies by the Panama Papers link, one of which—named Stanhope Investments—was used to open a Swiss bank account, into which funds were channeled for the purchase of a $20 million private jet.

4. Democratic Republic of Congo: The president’s twin sister

The twin sibling of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu, has been a member of parliament in the vast Central African country since 2012. Kyungu, who is also the daughter of assassinated ex-Congolese president Laurent Kabila, also runs a media company called Digital Congo, which has TV, radio and internet wings.

She is linked to Keratsu Holding Limited, a company incorporated in the Pacific island of Niue in June 2001, months before her brother was elected as the president of Democratic Republic of Congo. Kyungu has yet to comment on the allegations.

5. Angola: The oil-rich country’s petroleum minister

José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos has twice served as Angola’s petroleum minister, between 1999 and 2002 and again from 2008 until present. He also served as president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2009. Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil producer behind Nigeria, churning out 1.8 million barrels per day according to 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to the Panama Papers, Botelho de Vasconcelos was listed as one of two individuals with power of attorney for Medea Investments Limited, which was founded in 2001 in Niue. Botelho de Vasconcelos is yet to respond to the leak.

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