On October 3rd, 2021 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the world’s largest journalist cooperation in history leak, ‘Pandora Papers’ exposing prominent leaders and influential people involved in secret offshore wealth in tax-haven places.
35 world leaders, over 300 public officials and more than 100 billionaires’ offshore financial affairs in Panama, Monaco, Mexico, Australia, British Virgin Virgin Island and many other tax-havens were brought to light in the leak.
Tax havens are countries or places with low or no taxes charged to foreigners making it easy to set up businesses there.
While Africa is fighting against corruption and fraud, about 50 politicians and public officials from 18 countries were listed in the leak to have secretly moved money to their offshore shell companies including; President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Denis Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, President Ali Ondimba of Gabon, Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister, Patrick Achi; Uganda’s Security Minister, Jim Muhwezi and Mozambique’s former prime minister Aires Ali.
Other people intertwined in this scandalous leak are leaders’ close family members including; Kenyatta’s mother, sisters and brother. Chad’s interim President’s stepbrother, Zakaria Idriss Déby Itno. Princess Lalla Hasnaa, the sister of the King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Nour El Fath Azali, the son of Assoumani Azali the President of the Union of Comoros who is also his father’s adviser.
While these leaks are backed with ICIJ evidence like emails, pictures and documents, unfortunately, this is not enough evidence to put these leaders behind bars.
Investigation need to be done by these countries to prove the allegations which is nearly impossible since most of the wealth is linked to shell companies with no records of what they do.
According to ICIJ, Kenyatta along with his immediate family have 11 assets worth $30 million in Panama and the British Virgin Islands including three shell companies and so far, nothing has been done to question him or any of the family members and no comments from the alleged.
The leak has caught the world’s attention as most of the leaders listed are the ones preaching about anti-corruption like Tony Blair who fought against tax loopholes and now he is alleged for avoiding paying £312,000 in tax.
On the flip side of the world, Russia’s President Vladmir Putin and his inner circle are caught in these allegations, however, his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov came forward denying every bit of it saying the allegations are based on “unsubstantiated claims”.
What this means for Africa, is that we still have greedy leaders who will never be satisfied with their wealth. Unless authorities responsible decide to follow Pakistan’s steps to investigate these allegations, the information leaked will have no impact in the respective countries as the alleged will keep their offshore wealth regardless.