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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Panama Papers, Stealing from Africa's poor to give to the rich

Reverse Robin Hood; the Panama Papers details how shell companies steal from billions from Africa's poor to give to the rich. 



The Panama Papers detail tax avoidance in very poor African countries by very wealthy International companies and individuals. These unethical business practices undermine Africa’s progress trapping millions of Africans in poverty. The Panama Papers have lifted the veil on a secret world in which tax havens are used to shift billions out of the world’s poorest countries in Africa.


What are the Panama Papers?


Fifty-two out of fifty-four African countries are mentioned in the Panama Papers prompting investigations and hearings for shareholders and directors of 214,000 shell companies for tax evasion, and other illicit practices.
 Reverse Robin Hood Syndrome 
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for the Mossack Fonseca law firm. Fifty-two out of fifty-four African countries are mentioned in the Panama Papers prompting investigations and hearings for shareholders and directors of 214,000 shell companies for tax evasion, and other illicit practices. Although many of these companies do legitimate business, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) identified 37 companies within the Panama Papers that have been named in court actions or government investigations involving natural resources in Africa.

One of Africa’s poorest countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from 1999 to 2002, during Joseph Kabila Kabange presidency a United Nations investigation found he "transferred ownership of at least $5 billion of assets from the state-mining sector to private companies under its control... with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury,". As recently as 2014 the UN found that gold continued to provide important funding for both the army and armed rebel groups.

The Panama Papers detail tax avoidance in very poor African countries by very wealthy International companies and individuals. These unethical business practices undermine Africa’s progress trapping millions of Africans in poverty.
Stealing from Africa's
 poor to give to the rich
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, head of the African Union's panel on illicit financial flows, on April 9, 2016 called the Panama Papers "most welcome" and called on African nations to investigate the citizens of their nations who appear in the papers.

Mbeki investigative panel reported Africa loses $50 billion a year due to tax evasion and other illicit practices and its 50-year losses top a trillion dollars. Furthermore, he said, the Seychelles, an African nation, is the fourth most mentioned the Panama Papers as a friendly tax haven.

According to The Namibian newspaper, a shell company registered to Beny Steinmetz, Octea, owes more than $700,000 US in property taxes to the city of Koidu in Sierra Leone, and has $150 million in profits, even though its exports were more than twice that in an average month 2012-2015. Steinmetz himself has personal worth of $6 billion.

The leaked documents indicate that about US $2 trillion has passed through Mossack Fonseca firm's hands. Several of the holding companies that appear in the documents did business with sanctioned entities, such as arms merchants and relatives of dictators, while the sanctions were in place. 

The firm provided services to a Seychelles company named Pangates International, which the US government believes supplied aviation fuel to the Syrian government during the current civil war, and continued to handle its paperwork and certify it as a company in good standing, despite sanctions, until August 2015.
The Panama Papers have lifted the veil on a secret world in which tax havens are used to shift billions out of the world’s poorest countries in Africa.
Central African Republic girls have
one of Africa's lowest secondary school enrollment rates

John Doe, the whistleblower who leaked the documents to German journalist Bastian Obermayer from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, remains anonymous to date.


As the Huffington post writer, Caroline Kende Robb stated “It is time for multinational companies to pay fair taxes to African governments; for African governments to be involved in discussions to reform the global tax system; and for the gap between what is legal and what is fair to be narrowed.”

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