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World Policy Newsletter, Week of April 8th

The Panama Papers is the biggest leak in history; 11.5 million records from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed an opaque system in which billionaires, smugglers, and fraudsters hide their money.

More than 400 journalists and over 100 outlets have been involved in this massive investigation. World Policy Journal, through its partnership with African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), played a significant role, acting as story editors for a number of the Africa-based pieces. The financial structures that Mossack Fonseca helped others take advantage of are particularly damaging to countries in Africa, which is estimated to lose nearly $150 billion every year from illicit flows, a staggering 25 percent of its GDP.

Dodgy dealings within the Steinmetz Group in Sierra Leone seem to indicate the undervaluing of diamonds, which is costing the country in tax revenue. Khadija Sharife and Silas Gbandia investigated the secrecy in Beny Steinmetz’s diamond empire. Impact: During an April 7 press conference, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone announced that Octea, a company at the center of Steinmetz Group’s diamond business, would be placed under review, Gbandia reports.

Ntibinyane Ntibinyane writes how the president of Botswana’s highest court officer, Ian Kirby, has invested in seven offshore companies domiciled and registered in a tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. Impact: Source confirmed a call with a senior member of Botswana’s law society who has proposed tabling a declaration of assets by judges and magistrates at a forthcoming meeting.

Khadija Sharife revealed how leaked documents pry open the corporate structure of companies involved in a mining rights scandal in Guinea. Impact: Monica Mark argues at BuzzFeed that the evidence of corrupt practises exposed by the leak may be strong enough to derail Guinea's “deal of the century.”

Follow along at World Policy Journal blog and ANCIR for more stories on the Panama Papers leaks.

Fellow Updates

Alon Ben-Meir calls upon Abbas, Meshal, Haniyeh, and Hamas, in an open letter in the Huffington Post, imploring the leaders to face reality and accept the historic verdict that Israelis and Palestinians must coexist to avoid self-destructive policy. An audio version of his letter is available on SoundCloud.

Swadesh Rana is now a member of the advisory board of the Center of Global Affairs at the Peace Island Institute in New York.

Damaso Reyes wrote an article for The Root about the black German experience. He is also featured on this week’s episode of World Policy On Air, part of a special two-episode series that presents an excerpt from his radio documentary based on interviews with black Germans and Poles living in historically homogeneous white societies. Part Two of the podcast focuses on black lives in Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Khadija Sharife spoke to Newsday on BBC radio about the Panama Papers leaks from an African perspective.

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[Photo courtesy of The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists ]

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