Africa: Panama Papers Probe Exposes New Secret Deals Across Africa

The Panama Papers website.
3 August 2016

Cape Town — International journalists' networks investigating the use of offshore bank accounts which enable wealthy clients to reduce the level of scrutiny of their dealings have published new revelations about businessmen in Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Egypt and Algeria.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) says the latest research on the Panama Papers - leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca - has exposed "fresh details about the misuse of corporate secrecy and hidden wealth in Africa..."

The ICIJ has worked with the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting and a number of African news organisations - including AllAfrica content partners - in its latest invesigations.

The ICIJ says that businesses in 52 African countries used offshore companies created by Mossack Fonseca.

It adds: "In 44 countries, offshore companies were used to assist oil, gas and mining deals and exports, concerning advocates and governments in a continent where many nations rely on revenue from natural resources.

"In total, the Panama Papers include more than 1,400 companies whose names alone indicate activity in the extractive industries. Although many of these companies do legitimate business, ICIJ identified 37 companies within the Panama Papers that have been named in court actions or government investigations involving natural resources in Africa."

The naming of people and companies with offshore bank accounts does not necessarily mean they are corrupt, but anti-corruption groups - and, in Africa particularly, campaigners against illicit financial flows - say the secrecy of the accounts can facilitate tax evasion and avoidance.

The ICIJ and Premium Times of Abuja have published details about Kolawole Aluko, a petroleum and aviation mogul who is one of four defendants accused of helping to cheat Nigeria out of nearly $1.8 billion owed to the government on massive sales of oil.

The news organisations note that "Mr. Aluko is part of a constellation of Nigerian oil executives, state governors, cabinet ministers, military officials and tribal chiefs within the Panama Papers. Mossack Fonseca... worked for three former Nigerian oil ministers who used companies to buy boats and homes in London..."

In Nairobi, the Daily Nation reports that "a company that was contracted to repair military equipment in Kenya was registered in a tax haven and had opened an offshore account explicitly to avoid paying tax."

From Cairo, Aswat Masriya reports that "the family of Egyptian business tycoon Salah Diab used a corporate network made of Egyptian and offshore companies to sign agreements and strike deals with the Egyptian government."

The Namibian says that two Namibian arms dealers are among those named as clients of Mossack Fonseca. One of them was a director of the government's military company and both were among recipients of commissions from South African arms deals.

In addition, the ICIJ reports on its website that twelve of 17 companies under investigation by authorities in Italy in relation to a $10 billion oil and gas deal in Algeria were created by Mossack Fonseca.

In a round-up of reaction to the latest revelations, the ICIJ adds that "advocacy groups said the... stories highlighted the serious impact offshore secrecy has on Africa."

More From: allAfrica

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.