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Massive leak of documents may offer clues to Africa's missing wealth

On April 20, 2016

It has been called the biggest leak in the history of recorded journalism. Over 11 million documents sent to a newspaper in Germany are providing a first time look into the whereabouts of the national wealth of nations in Africa, Latin America, Europe and the U.S. that had disappeared over the years without a trace.

The documents were obtained from Mossack Fonseca, a law office in Panama that reportedly helped to create offshore accounts where money could be quietly stashed, laundered, but not traced. Some of the world’s richest individuals, political figures, judges, criminals and screen stars were among their clients, according to recently published stories.

A look at the leaked records provides an unprecedented picture of how major global banks work hand-in-glove with other players in an offshore industry that helps the super-rich, politicians and criminals keep their assets under wraps.

More than 350 journalists working in 77 countries as part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the U.S.-based McClatchy and its 29 newspapers, reviewed the leaked documents and worked on the now-published report.

While some of those named were international investors in African resources, a surprising number of Africans were also mentioned including a nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma, the twin sister of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, the jailed former governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State, and the petroleum minister of Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer behind Nigeria.

The sons of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor were also mentioned. John Addo Kufuor, the eldest son of the former president had a $75,000 bank account using an offshore company as cover according to the documents. An official investigation in Ghana was unable to find evidence of wrongdoing.

In the case of Kojo Annan, an offshore company was used to buy a $500,000 London apartment, according to Mossack Fonseca data. The Panamanian law firm has denied any wrongdoing.

More details are forthcoming, the German editor revealed on the DemocracyNow news show. Details uncovered so far can be found on the website: https://panamapapers.icij.org/.

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