A HUGE leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, and were passed to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
They amount to approximately 3 terabytes of data, including corporate records, emails and more. It is about 100 times larger than the 1.7 GB of data dumped in 2010 by Wikileaks.
In amongst these records were global figures such as footballer Lionel Messi, actor Jackie Chan and those named reached the highest political tiers such as Russian president Vladamir Putin and British politicians Lord Ashcroft, Baroness Pamela Sharples and former Tory MP Michael Mates.
In their research on the panama leaks’ “Power Players”, the ICIJ focused in and explored the stories behind the use of offshore companies of politicians and their relatives and associates specifically. These totalled more than 100 in all and for each of them the consortium indicated that they had contacted them for comment.
Here are the stories of current or former senior African officials, relatives of presidents and VIPs, or business people featured on this list, but bear in mind that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies, foundations and trusts. This is not to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities listed here have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly:
Ahmad Ali al-Mirghani, former Sudanese president
Al-Mirghani died in November 2008. He was the democratically-elected president of Sudan from May 1986 until he was overthrown by a coup in June 1989.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company owned a London apartment
Al-Mirghani was the owner of the British Virgin Islands Company Orange Star Corporation, created in 1995. That same year, Orange Star Corporation purchased a long lease of an apartment in an expensive area of London north of Hyde Park for more than $600,000. At the time of Al-Mirghani’s death, he held assets through the company worth $2.72 million.
Alaa Mubarak, son of former Egyptian president
Alaa Mubarak is a wealthy Egyptian businessman and the eldest son of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company triggered investigations by financial authorities.
Alaa Mubarak owned the British Virgin Islands firm Pan World Investments Inc., managed by Credit Suisse. In 2011, the year in which his father resigned the Egyptian presidency and was arrested along with Alaa and another son, BVI authorities told Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World’s assets, an order prompted by a European Union law.
In 2013, Mossack Fonseca was fined $37,500 for failing to properly check into Alaa Mubarak, “a high risk customer.” Credit Suisse, however, wrote Mossack Fonseca that Pan World’s activities – “one investment with HIG Venture Fund” and a cash account with the bank – did not contravene Switzerland’s freeze on Mubarak’s assets. In 2014, a second BVI agency started investigating Mossack Fonseca and Pan World. Company employees admitted internally that they could be found “in further breaches.” Noting they had “very little control” over Mubarak’s company, they resigned as its agent in April 2015.
Mounir Majidi, personal secretary to the King of Morocco
Majidi is the head of SIGER, the holding company of Morocco’s royal family with stakes in mining, agricultural and telecommunications businesses.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: British Virgin Islands company was used to purchase luxury 1930s schooner used by Morocco’s king.
In March 2006, Mounir Majidi received power of attorney privileges for SMCD Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2005. In January 2006, SMCD Limited authorized the purchase of a luxury 1930s schooner “Aquarius W” and put Majidi in charge of handling the transaction.
After the purchase, the vessel was registered in Morocco. Renamed “El Boughaz I,” the schooner is now owned by King Mohammed VI. SMCD Limited was also used to make a loan for an unknown purpose to a Luxembourg-based company, Logimed Investments Co., Sàrl. SMCD Limited was liquidated in 2013. Majidi was also administrator of a Luxembourg company called Immobiliere Orion S.A., which borrowed $42 million in 2003 from a Mossack Fonseca-incorporated company to buy and renovate a luxury Paris apartment. It is unclear who owned the company that lent the money.
A lawyer for Majidi said: “The two companies to which you refer were created in strict accordance with laws in place and their existence is available from public registers.”
John Addo Kufuor, son of Ghana’s former president
John Addo Kufuor is the eldest son of John Agyekum Kufuor, who led the country from 2001 to 2009.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: His offshore company controlled a $75,000 bank account for Kufour and his mother.
In early 2001, shortly after the start of his father’s first presidential term, Kufuor appointed Mossack Fonseca to manage The Excel 2000 Trust. Later that year, it controlled a bank account in Panama worth $75,000. His mother – Theresa Kufuor, then-Ghana’s First Lady – was also a beneficiary. In November 2010, an employee in Mossack Fonseca’s compliance office in the British Virgin Islands suggested to colleagues that “due to the apparent prevalence of corruption surrounding Mr. Kufour we would not recommend us taking him on as a client or continuing business with him.” Mossack Fonseca, however, continued to do business with Kufuor. In 2012, Kufuor asked Mossack Fonseca to close the trust.
Jean-Claude N’Da Ametchi, associate of former Ivory Coast president
Jean-Claude N’Da Ametchi is a banking executive from the Ivory Coast. In April 2011, the European Union sanctioned N’Da Ametchi for allegedly helping to fund the “illegitimate administration” of former president Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo oversaw a civil conflict in which 3,000 people were killed when he refused to accept his defeat in the 2010 presidential elections.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: An offshore firm held assets for N’Da Ametchi and a bank account in Monaco.
Cadley House Ltd. was registered in the Seychelles in 2006. Although the company was at first held through so-called bearer shares, which do not list an offshore company’s owner, emails confirm that the firm belonged to N’Da Ametchi. The company’s purpose was described as “management of personal assets…[and] ownership of a bank account in the Principality of Monaco.” In one 2011 email from N’Da Ametchi to Mossack Fonseca’s Geneva office, the business executive discussed selling assets and the transfer of nearly $5,000. Although N’Da Ametchi’s financial managers told Mossack Fonseca in 2014 that “the beneficial owner of the company does not wish to maintain his company and wish to terminate it,” the company was still active in 2015. There is no indication from emails whether Mossack Fonseca was aware of the European sanctions.
Clive Khulubuse Zuma is a nephew of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma. A mining magnate, Khulubuse Zuma reportedly has a lavish lifestyle. In June 2015, a South African court found Zuma liable as chairman in the collapse of a gold mining company that led to more than 5,000 job losses.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore firm was accused of questionable oil field deals.
Zuma was authorised to represent Caprikat Limited, one of two offshore companies that controversially acquired oil fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In late summer 2010, as published reports raised questions about the acquisition, British Virgin Islands authorities ordered Mossack Fonseca to provide background information on Zuma, which the law firm had not previously obtained. That same year, Mossack Fonseca decided to end its relationship with the companies. Zuma and representatives of the companies have rejected allegations of wrongdoing and claimed the oil deals are “quite attractive” to the DRC government.
Mamadie Touré, widow of former president of Guinea
Mamadie Touré is the widow of Lansana Conté, the former dictator and president of Guinea. U.S. authorities allege that Touré received $5.3 million in bribes to help a mining company obtain rights to the world’s richest iron ore deposit. In 2014, US authorities raided Touré’s Florida home, seizing properties, restaurant equipment and an ice cream cooler collectively worth more than $1 million.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company timing coincides with disputed award of a mining contract by her late husband.
Touré was granted the power of attorney to Matinda Partners and Co. Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, in November 2006. That same year, she began a relationship with a mining company that US authorities alleged had paid her $5.3 million to help it win a disputed mining concession from her husband, then-President Lansana Conté, shortly before he died in late 2008. Investigators said Matinda was a conduit for much of the money paid to Touré. Touré, who is cooperating with US authorities as part of an ongoing probe, has admitted to receiving bribes in order to influence her husband. She used a stand-in shareholder, Beneficence Foundation, and a Swiss company as the foundation’s manager, which reduced public connections between Matinda and Touré. The company ceased to operate on 30 April 2010.
Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu, DR Congo Member of Parliament
Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu is the twin sister of Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Famed for secrecy and meticulousness, she was elected to parliament in November 2011 and took office in February 2012. Kabila is the president of the Laurent Desire Kabila Foundation, named after her father, and owner of Digital Congo, a television, Internet and radio conglomerate. In 2015, Jeune Afrique reported that Kabila had become “the most influential person in the president’s entourage.”
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company has holding in Congo’s wireless communications business.
Keratsu Holding Limited was incorporated in Niue on June 19, 2001, a few months after Kabila’s brother became president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu appeared as co-director with Congolese businessman Kalume Nyembwe Feruzi. The DRC Company Keratsu Holding Ltd has owned stakes in one of the DRC’s major mobile phone operators.
Abdeslam Bouchouareb, Algerian Minister of industry and mines
A former business executive, Bouchouareb entered politics in 1994. He served as minister of industry from 1996, minister of employment from 2000 and vice president of the National Assembly in 2012.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company said to be used for business activities in Turkey, the United Kingdom and Algeria.
Abdeslam Bouchouareb has been the sole owner of the Panamanian company Royal Arrival Corp., which was created in April 2015, since July 2015 . Through this company, Bouchouareb held a Swiss bank account at NBAD Private Bank SA. He managed Royal Arrival Corp. via a Luxembourg company, Compagnie d’Etude et de Conseil (CEC). In emails sent to Mossack Fonseca, CEC said the activities of Royal Arrival Corp. were commercial representation and negotiation, commercial contracts, public works, railway and maritime transport, which took place in Turkey, the United Kingdom and in Algeria.
Response from his reps: A Luxembourg financial firm that set up the company for Bouchouareb, confirmed his ownership, noting that it “was constituted in all transparency.” It was set up to own and manage inherited property, the firm said. Because of Bouchouareb’s ministerial position, “We, with his agreement, decided to delay any use of the company, and the opening of the bank account at NBAD Geneva was never finalized…Mr. Bouchouareb asked us to freeze this company for the duration of his public mandates.”
José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, Angola’s minister of petroleum
Botelho de Vasconcelos first served as petroleum minister from 1999 to 2002 before becoming Minister for Energy and Water. He was re-appointed Minister of Petroleum in 2008 and was president of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2009.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore use goes back to his first time as minister of petroleum.
On 6 March 2002, when Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos was minister of petroleum for the first time, he was named one of two individuals who had power of attorney for Medea Investments Limited, a company that put its own value at $1 million. The company was incorporated on September 13, 2001 in Niue and moved to Samoa in 2006. It was inactivated on Feb. 16, 2009. In both Niue and Samoa, the company was held by “bearer” shares, which belong to the individual who physically holds them, making it easier to obscure ownership. Medea Investments Limited (Samoa) was one of two companies to hold shares in the New York Company Blue Nile Consulting LLC in October 2007.
Kalpana Rawal, Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice
Kalpana Rawal, who became Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice in June 2013, has been fighting an attempt by the Judicial Services Commission to force her to retire from Kenya’s Supreme Court since her 70th birthday in January 2016. She filed suit in September, arguing she was appointed under a previous constitution that let judges work until they turn 74. In December, a five-judge panel ruled against her, but she has appealed. She has noted that the issue is bigger than just her case and could effect the retirement and pension rights who were appointed under the previous constitution.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Used offshore companies to buy and sell London real estate
Rawal and her husband were directors of two companies based in the British Virgin Islands, prior to her joining the nation’s Supreme Court. The family used other offshore companies to buy and sell real estate in London and nearby Surrey.
Her response to this is that she has not been involved with the family businesses except for generally knowing they were involved in real estate. She was listed as director on two of them without her knowledge by her husband when he was told two directors were required, she said.
Ian Stuart Kirby, senior judge in Botswana
Kirby has served as president of the Court of Appeal in Botswana since 2010. A former private attorney and tax specialist, Kirby was Botswana’s deputy attorney general from 1990 to 2000 and served as a High Court judge from 2000 until late 2003, when he ascended to the post of attorney general. He eventually returned to the High Court bench in 2006.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: One of many shareholders in offshore companies, some of which owned UK real estate
Kirby first appeared in documents sent to Mossack Fonseca as a shareholder of Bellbrook Estates Limited in May 2005, while Kirby was attorney general of Botswana. Bellbrook Estates Limited carried out unspecified activities in the United Kingdom, according to a 2014 list by Mossack Fonseca of active companies for which it served as registered agent. Although specific details of the offshore companies in which Kirby held shares are not available, at least three of those BVI firms held properties, including commercial real estate, in the United Kingdom.
In response Kirby said that the companies were special purpose vehicles formed by a joint venture to acquire, develop and resell a particular property in the UK, as an investment.
Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Head of national oil company
Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua rose to power in the Republic of Congo through his family’s close association with President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, first serving as the president’s hydrocarbons adviser, then becoming head of the national oil company (SNPC) in 1998. Itoua was implicated in a massive diversion of company funds that came to light in 2003. A lawsuit two years later by one of Congo’s creditors accused Itoua and the SNPC of conspiring to “divert oil revenues … into the pockets of powerful Congolese public officials.” After a US federal appeals court ruled in 2007 that American courts did not have jurisdiction over the suit against the SNPC because it was a government agency, the creditor did not pursue its case against Itoua.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Held offshore companies when in charge of energy and the national oil company.
Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua had power of attorney to represent two offshore companies in 2004, while he was energy adviser to the President of the Republic of Congo and CEO of SNPC, the Congolese national oil company. The companies, Denvest Capital Strategies Inc., based in the British Virgin Islands, and Grafin Associated SA, based in Panama, had previously issued unregistered shares which belong to the person who physically holds them. The companies became inactive in 2006 and 2007 respectively, according to Mossack Fonseca’s records.
James Ibori, governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012 to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences. Ibori admitted using his position as governor to corruptly obtain and divert up to $75 million out of Nigeria through a network of offshore companies, although authorities alleged that the total amount he embezzled may have exceeded $250 million. Ibori received a 13-year prison sentence.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore company figured in fraud and money laundering investigation.
Mossack Fonseca was the registered agent of four offshore companies connected to James Ibori, including Julex Foundation, of which Ibori and family members were beneficiaries. Julex was the shareholder of Stanhope Investments, a company incorporated in Niue in 2003. Ibori was also connected to Financial Advisory Group Ltd. and Hunglevest Corporation, although Mossack Fonseca’s files do not specify the exact nature of his connection. In 2008, Mossack Fonseca received a request from the Seychelles government to produce documents as part of a probe by the Crown Prosecution Service, England’s principal prosecuting authority, of Ibori and alleged criminal activities.
Emmanuel Ndahiro, Rwanda’s former Chief of Intelligence
Emmanuel Ndahiro served as President Paul Kagame’s physician, security adviser and spokesman. He also served as military spokesman when Kagame was minister of defence from 1994-2000. Ndahiro led Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services from 2004-2011. In 2015, he was promoted to brigadier general.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Director in offshore company owned by an army colleague.
Emmanuel Ndahiro became a director of British Virgin Islands Company Debden Investments Limited in September 1998.
Attan Shansonga, Former Zambian ambassador to the US
Attan Shansonga, ambassador of Zambia to the United States between 2000 and 2002, was arrested in the Zambian capital of Lusaka in 2002 amid an investigation into the diversion of millions of dollars out of Zambia when President Frederik Chiluba’s was in office.
Shansonga fled Zambia in 2004 and, two years later, was accused by the Zambian government of receiving “misappropriated monies” and using offshore accounts to launder the loot. In 2007, an English civil court held that Shansonga served as a conduit for $1.3 million to President Chiluba’s spy chief. Following the ruling, Zambia reportedly recovered “significant sums of money from him.” Attempts by the Zambian government to extradite Shansonga have failed.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: One offshore company was accused of looting the Zambian state.
In 1998, Shansonga became a director of Starflight Ventures Limited, Stacey Investment Holdings Ltd and Debden Investments Limited. The activities of these companies were not revealed. In 2005, Mossack Fonseca received court documents because it was the agent for Hearnville Estates Ltd., a British Virgin Islands-based company named as one of 20 defendants, including Shansonga himself, in a corruption case that the Zambian government pursued in an English court. The company, incorporated in 1998, was allegedly used to purchase apartments in Lusaka with money looted from the Zambian state.
Kojo Annan, son of former United Nations secretary general
The Swiss company Cotecna hired Kojo Annan in 1995 for work in Nigeria. By early 1998, he had quit to become a consultant to Cotecna. Months later, the United Nations awarded the firm a contract as part of Oil-for-Food humanitarian programme in Iraq, prompting allegations of impropriety. An independent panel investigated the program, including Kojo Annan, and issued a report in 2005 that found no evidence that he tried to influence or to use family connections to benefit from the program.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore used to buy $500,000 London apartment
Kojo Annan was sole director of the Samoan company Sapphire Holding Ltd, originally incorporated in Niue in 2003, which he had used to buy an apartment in central London. The apartment was purchased in a transaction completed in 2003 for more than $500,000, according to UK records.
A lawyer for Annan responded that his companies “operate in accordance with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdictions and, insofar tax liabilities arise, they pay taxes in the jurisdictions in which taxes are due to be paid. In other words, any entity and account held by Mr. Annan has been opened solely for normal, legal purposes of managing family and business matters and has been fully disclosed in accordance with applicable laws.” He also noted that an investigation found no evidence that Annan tried to influence anyone in the UN to award contracts to any company with which he was associated.
Mamadou Pouye, former Senegalese minister
Mamadou Pouye is a childhood friend of Karim Wade, son of Senegal’s former President Abdoulaye Wade, and held several key ministries during his father’s presidency. Karim Wade and Pouye were arrested in April 2013 after investigations into a corruption scandal in which Wade and associates were charged with illegally amassing assets worth $240 million – Pouye was sentenced to five years in prison for complicity in illegal enrichment.
Inside the Mossack Fonseca data: Offshore companies received millions for consulting services related to the port in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
Pouye first appeared in Mossack Fonseca’s files in October 2008, instructing the law firm to open a bank account for the Panama company Seabury Inc. Between December 2008 and August 2012, two companies connected to Pouye — the Panamanian Latvae Group, of which he was shareholder, and Seabury, in which his role was unspecified — signed contracts worth about $35 million for consulting and advisory services relating to the port in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. At the corruption trial against Pouye and Karim Wade, which has been criticised by the United Nations and human rights organisations for violating the rights of Wade, Pouye and others, authorities alleged that they enriched themselves through government contracts, involving the port, the airport and other activities.