What you should know about the newest Panama Papers stories

July 29th, 2016

Earlier this week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), along with their partners at the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and 18 media outlets around the continent, released a new batch of Panama Papers stories with a specific focus on African nations.

ICIJ and its media partners worked to deliver a “Panama Papers 2.0”, with a coordinated launch of the new revelations across the continent, from Niger to Namibia. The latest stories again show the link between offshore companies and an array of business persons and politicians. Perhaps most alarming was the finding that in 44 out of Africa’s 54 countries, there was evidence of extractive industry businesses using offshore financial structures detailed in the Panama Papers. Thirty seven of these companies were linked to legal action or official government investigations.

Along with ICIJ’s original stories, here’s a quick rundown of stories that have been published in this wave, via ICIJ’s own blog:

  • In Egypt, the government said it was unaware of the offshore activities of a company with which it signed a lucrative oil deal in the Gulf of Suez;
  • In Togo, cement executives used offshore companies to manage part of their vast West Africa business empire;
  • Kenya’s Ministry of State for Defence signed a contract with an offshore firm that, in the secret files, explicitly stated its purpose was “tax avoidance;”
  • A cousin of the King of Morocco was linked to as many as 30 offshore companies, reportedly used for stock market betting designed for foreign investors, not Moroccans;
  • A mysterious company with no online presence or physical offices in Botswana has been accused of unsustainable fracking in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert;
  • Two Namibian businessmen with ties to an infamous arms deal were identified as clients of Mossack Fonseca;
  • In South Africa, a major bank found itself in a muddle by denying any ties to Mossack Fonseca yet recording nearly 25,000 results in the Panama Papers database;
  • In Mali, a French mobile phone company would not explain why it paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a shell company for Mali’s first mobile phone network, or disclose who the money was for;
  • In Burkina Faso, a discreet American pilot of the country’s former president, who quit office in 2014 following mass protests, used an offshore company for a property deal in the United Kingdom;
  • New details emerged in a controversial land deal in Mozambique that may displace thousands of people but about which very little, including the true identity of executives behind the companies, is known;
  • In Algeria, a powerful executive was an early customer of Mossack Fonseca, reportedly in breach of Algerian laws that prohibited offshore holdings;
  • In Niger, the man behind a major transport company who is reportedly close to the country’s ruling political party, used an offshore company to receive revenue from his buses across the Sahara Desert.

Alongside the launch of these latest investigations, the Pulitzer Center, a supporter of ICIJ’s work, held an evening event in Washington, D.C. to discuss the new work, and what might be next for the Panama Papers. The event featured ICIJ reporter Will Fitzgibbon, Ray Choto, a Zimbabwean journalist currently writing for Voice of America, Ian Gary of Oxfam America, and our own director, Porter McConnell.

The wide ranging talk explored the details of the newest stories, and also the various policy solutions that could help curb abuse of offshore centers. You can catch the whole talk in the video below (the discussion begins at 17:26), or on YouTube here:

Written by Christian Freymeyer

Christian is the FTC's Press & Digital Media Officer. Follow him on Twitter @cfreymeyer.

Image used under Creative Commons License / Flickr User Chris Fithall

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