Monday, 9 May 2016

Africa - Panama Papers All Set for New Release

Dar es Salaam — The world is expected to come to a standstill today when details of hundreds of thousands of offshore accounts are released by the custodian of the so-called Panama Papers.


Tanzania would likely know today whether any of its leaders or some rich individuals with their secret banking information feature in the stolen dossier, when the second round of the scandalous records are published online today.

No Tanzanian was mentioned in the first batch of the Panama Papers released last month but the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which is to make public later today fresh secret bank details, says the latest records contain details of 200,000 offshore accounts and most likely include thousands of nationalities around the world.
Africa - Panama Papers All Set for New Release
Several names of Tanzanian businessmen and politicians have been linked in the past to offshore destinations such as Switzerland and Jersey. Investigation that aimed at revealing the faces or criminality of those behind the accounts remain incomplete, but the possibility that more of similar shadowy dealings could emerge in the Panama Papers scandal today will pile pressure on the government to finally tackle the matter head on.

It is not illegal for anyone to hold an offshore account, but it has been proven that most of these operations are used as proxy by the super-rich, corrupt leaders and businessmen to hide their looted wealth and avoid paying tax. Organisations and companies have also used tax havens to hide their millions of dollars while avoiding paying taxes or hiding behind the secretive baking territories to shield their illegal deals.

President John Magufuli who has declared war on corruption and placed an unequivocal order against tolerance towards anyone engaging in tax evasion, will certainly take interest in any Tanzanian or company working in the country should they feature in today's Panama Papers.

The first time the papers were released, their scope only covered a few countries in which names of world leaders and royalties such as Russia President Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and UK Prime Minister David Cameron were shown as having links to some of the secret offshore accounts.

Closer to home in Kenya, the country's deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal and business associates of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga featured. Kenyan nationals behind the infamous Deci pyramid scheme were some of the people who hid billions of Kenyan shillings in Panama.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo a sister of President Joseph Kabila was also named as having an off-shore account in Panama. In South Africa, a son of President Jacob Zuma was also implicated in the Papers.

So, it is with interest that today people across the world over will be waiting with bated breath eager to pore through the millions of Panama documents when they finally go online at 2pm ET (9pm East African time) ICIJ said in a statement posted on its website.

What is also interesting this time around is that the leaked documents will be searchable, meaning it will be easy to target the search to country specific details.

A miss for Tanzania would suggest, like in the example of the Swiss accounts, a peculiar preference of the tax havens away from Panama that so far seemed the safest for the launderers until the February leak by a team of investigative journalists.

The new information in the searchable database will list; the name of anyone listed as a director or shareholder of an offshore company in the huge Panama Papers leak; the names and addresses of more than 200,000 offshore companies, though in most cases, the ultimate owner would still shrouded in secrecy; the identities of dozens of intermediary agencies that helped set up and run those accounts in tandem with Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm from which the records were leaked.

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