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The Panama Papers is the largest leak in history. At 2.6 terabytes, it’s on a scale never seen before—over 1,000-fold bigger than Wikileaks’ Cablegate scandal. The 11.5 million records from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca reveal an opaque system where billionaires, smugglers, and fraudsters hide their money for reasons both legitimate and criminal. So far, 12 current and former world leaders as well as scores of politicians have been implicated, and the ramifications of the leaks are only beginning to emerge.
But the most shocking thing is that all of this is just a sliver of the shadowy world of offshoring. Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in creating shell companies in tax havens around the world, is only the fourth biggest provider of offshore services.
The financial structures that Mossack Fonseca helped others take advantage of are particularly damaging to countries in Africa. The continent is estimated to lose nearly $150 billion every year from illicit flows, a staggering 25 percent of its GDP. While the problem is not new, nor particularly surprising, naming names and making records public is a threat to corrupt individuals and regimes everywhere.
More than 400 journalists and over 100 outlets have been involved in this massive investigation. And World Policy Journal, through its partnership with the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting, is proud to have played a role, acting as story editors for a number of the Africa-based pieces.
ANCIR, with an assist from WPJ, uncovered missing taxes from oil revenue in Uganda, a mega-infrastructure deal in Namibia connected to a FIFA-related entity, secrecy in Beny Steinmetz’s diamond empire, and hidden players in Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.
Investec’s claims that it has no ties to Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca are undermined by the mention of its name in 24,732 documents in the Panama Papers and existing trails of business connections in known tax havens, writes BARRY SERGEANT.
In addition to the nepotistic appointment of the president’s daughter as its chief, Angola’s scandal-ridden state-owned oil company is losing out on oil royalties to a company with unknown owners, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
Despite claims that a massive agricultural development deal in Mozambique will benefit the country’s citizens, there are indications that the project is designed to benefit a select few and could leave 100,000 Mozambicans displaced, write KHADIJA SHARIFE and LUIS NHACHOTE.
The Panama Papers show how the Government of Ghana signed an agreement with an offshore company for the development and operation of a five-star luxury hotel before seeking parliamentary approval, writes KWETEY NARTEY.
Two Namibian businessmen with ties to the South African arms deal scandal have been identified as clients of Mossack Fonseca, writes SHINOVENE IMMANUEL.
An energy company previously accused by minority rights groups and environmentalists of hydraulic fracking in Botswana’s central district appears in the Panama Papers’ ‘list of shame’, write NTIBINYANE NTIBINYANE and VINCENT MATUMO.
In the wake of international and local investigations and court cases, leaked information reveals the fall from grace of one of Nigeria’s corrupt and super wealthy oil executive, writes WILL FITZGIBBON.
A community in Sierra Leone continues to oppose a diamond mining operation in its city that has links to murky offshore shell companies and dubious global diamond dealings, write SILAS GBANDIA, COOPER INVEEN, WILL FITZGIBBON, KHADIJA SHARIFE and MICHAEL HUDSON.
The Panama Papers have shed further light on Algerian businessman Farid Bedjaoui’s connection to bribes worth $275 million for securing Algerian oil and gas contracts for Italian energy company Saipem, writes WILL FITZGIBBON.
The family of Egyptian business tycoon Salah Diab used a corporate network of local and offshore companies in an oil field development deal it signed with the Egyptian government, writes HISHAM ALLAM.
As visitors come to see what’s in Africa, some safari operators’ profits head offshore, writes WILL FITZGIBBON.
The Panama Papers have linked Russian billionaire and Namibian land baron Rashid Sardov to a number of unscrupulous offshore companies, writes SHINOVENE IMMANUEL.
An exceptional diamond agreement between De Beers and one of its sightholders, Diacore, raises questions about the secrecy shaping Botswana’s diamond industry, write KHADIJA SHARIFE and NTIBINYANE NTIBINYANE.
The Panama Papers have revealed ties between a Windhoek-based attorney and the Italian mafia, Cosa Nostra, writes SHINOVENE IMMANUEL, NDANKI KAHIURIKA, and TILENI MONGUDHI.
The Panama Papers have revealed more information about how offshore oil profits from Nigeria’s "black gold" Agbami oil fields have vanished, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
A network of proxies enabled Farouk Ismail, one of Botswana’s wealthiest people and a major shareholder of the Choppies retail chain, to set up a holding company in the Bahamas, write JOEL KONOPO and NTIBINYANE NTIBINYANE.
The Panama Papers have thrown fresh light on the illicit nature of copper mining concession deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, writes BARRY SERGEANT.
The head of the Nigeria Senate is accused of failing to declare his property and operating foreign accounts while in public office, write EMMANUEL MAYAH and JOSHUA OLUFEMI.
Letitia Diergaardt, a receptionist in Namibia, is an owner and shareholder of nine different offshore companies, despite allegedly knowing nothing about it, writes SHINOVENE IMMANUEL.
Opaque associations with the vice president’s stepson, a disgraced German bank president, people convicted of financial mismanagement and a private Russian bank indicate that Angola’s sovereign wealth fund may be little more than a laundering tool, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and his brother Sayyu Dantata have been linked to shell companies in tax havens, write JOSHUA OLUFEMI and EMMANUEL MAYAH.
Leaked documents show details about a well-publicized mafia’s business connection between a convicted mafioso and Zacky Nujoma, the youngest son of founding president Sam Nujoma, report KHADIJA SHARIFE, CECILIA ANESI, GUILIO RUBINO, and THE NAMIBIAN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT.
The leaks show an offshore company called HR Consultancy had been created to pay salaries to Zimplats, which is largely owned by South Africa’s Impala Platinum Mines. However, it denies any knowledge of the HR Consultancy and its purpose, writes RAY CHOTO.
Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal was a director and a shareholder of four companies located in a known tax haven, writes JACQUI KUBANIA.
Leaked documents show the paper trail of the Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd Company’s attempts at avoiding tax payment in Uganda, writes TABU BUTAGIRA.
Leaks from the Panama Papers reveal a web of intrigue about how companies got their rights to drill for oil in Angola, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
Despite international laws stipulating disclosure of the origins of gold, a tranche of leaked documents points to unsavory behavior by tax havens trading in commodities, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
The president of Botswana’s highest court, Ian Kirby, has invested in seven offshore companies domiciled and registered in a tax haven of the British Virgin Islands, writes NTIBINYANE NTIBINYANE.
The tender for the Walvis Bay port in Namibia is tied to a Trinidad politician with links to Brazil’s ‘Car Wash’ scandal, writes SHINOVENE IMMANUEL.
Dodgy dealings within the Steinmetz Group seems to indicate undervaluing of diamonds, which is costing Sierra Leone tax payments, report KHADIJA SHARIFE and SILAS GBANDIA.
Leaked documents pry open the corporate structure of companies involved in a mining rights scandal in Guinea, writes KHADIJA SHARIFE.
[Image courtesy of The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists]