Over 1 800 shareholders in South Africa, including Clive Khulubuse Zuma, each have a share in a secret offshore account, which may or may not be used to facilitate corrupt activity, according to a scathing new global report.
Released last night and now known as the world’s biggest data leak, The Panama Papers is a global investigation “into the sprawling, secretive industry of offshore that the world’s rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions”.
The investigation conducted by the The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), comprising the best players in investigative journalism from around the world, German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organisations.
The historic leak, which took a year to put together, is made up of 2.6TBs of data, 11.5 million financial and legal records, nearly 40 years of records dating back to the 70s, with information about more than 210 000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions.
The data was collected from Panama’s Mossack Fonseca one of the world’s top creators of offshore companies and includes emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records revealing the secret owners of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions.
The map below, by a Brian Martin, details the number of companies, clients, beneficiaries and shareholders around the globe who have been listed in the documents, the largest number being in Switzerland (surprise, surprise).
ICIJ said it will release the full list of companies and people linked to them in early May. Khulubuse Zuma is one of the only few prominent South Africans publicly listed on the data so far.
Zuma has, over the years, already become known for a string of corrupt practices.
Prominent international names include the likes of Barcelona FC star, Lionel Messi, President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri and the king of Saudi Arabia.
As it turns out, South Africa doesn’t even feature in the top 20 most mentioned countries in The Panama Papers.
Hong Kong, the UK, Luxembourg and Panama all make up the top five countries with the most listed companies along with Switzerland.
“These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Neither Khulubuse Zuma nor the Office of the Presidency have commented on the leak yet.
You can check out the rest of The Panama Papers data and sign up for a guided tour of the information on the ICIJ website.[Source – ICIJ, image – CC by Christopher Dombres]