Panama City, Panama (TFC)— Remember the Panama Papers leak..anyone?? If you do, then several African nations are amongst you. Obscure “customers” within their borders, according to leaks, were linked to offshore activities on the continent. Welcome to a new chapter of a forgotten scandal. It’s complete with inquiries pending and leaders questioned, topped off with journalists allegedly warned to stay away.
Mossack Fonseca, a firm center-piecing the Panama papers leak, sent business cards to several customers in Africa in 2010. According to ICIJ, the firm regarded the continent as “target territory”, filled with wealthy “customers”. However, since the leak–which outed everyone and everything from celebrities to military contractors–many of those customers have been questioned by African governments.
According to ICIJ, sources linked Mossack Fonseca’s activities to Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Botswana, South Africa, and four other nations. Shortly afterward, governments fell upon those named in the leak for questioning. In some countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, ministers warned journalists to “be careful”, ICIJ reports. Exactly what was meant by the ominous warning is unknown, though one can imagine.
Three probes were launched in Tunisia, while South Africa investigated it’s own ties to Mossack Fonseca. South Africa’s finance ministry encouraged those hiding assets through the firm to “come clean”. The ministry hopes evaders will cooperate, and accept government help to become legitimate before they’re “caught out.” South Africa’s handling of the situation, however, ignites fears isn’t interested in punishing considers violators.
Some regions seek more serious consequences, such as diamond rich Sierra Leone. Mossack Fonseca maintained customers in the diamond business, though exactly who is unknown. Sierra Leone’s mining and natural resources ministry said it will investigate and take action where necessary. The nation is known for a high frequency of blood diamonds, used to finance brutal conflicts. This, along with other black market interests in Sierra Leone makes Mossack Fonseca’s connections there highly intriguing.
As different nations take various levels of action, ICIJ will continue to utilize sources for information from the ground. ICIJ said its investigation is ongoing, and more updates are to come in late July. Whether these will be acknowledged widely, well, that’s up to you to guess.