At the onset of publications on the now popular Panama Papers early April 2016, listing names of rich and well-connected people linked to shell companies in tax havens, the names of only two Ghanaians have been seen.
The names of the sons of former President John Kufuor and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appeared on the list. John Addo Kufuor, the eldest son of former President Kufour and Kojo Annan, the only son of Kofi Annan.
The documents show that in early 2001, shortly after the start of his father’s first presidential term, Kufuor appointed Mossack Fonseca to manage The Excel 2000 Trust.
Later that year, it controlled a bank account in Panama worth $75,000. His mother – Theresa Kufuor, then-Ghana’s first lady – was also a beneficiary.
In November 2010, an employee in Mossack Fonseca’s compliance office in the British Virgin Islands suggested to colleagues that, “due to the apparent prevalence of corruption surrounding Mr. Kufuor we would not recommend us taking him on as a client or continuing business with him.” Mossack Fonseca, however, continued to do business with Kufuor.
In 2012, Kufuor asked Mossack Fonseca to close the trust, the files including email correspondence say.
Files also connected Kufuor with British Virgin Islands companies Fordiant Ltd and Stamford International Investments Group Limited. Both were registered when Kufuor’s father was president of Ghana and became inactive in 2004 and 2007.
On Kojo Annan, who was sole director of the Samoan company Sapphire Holding Ltd, originally incorporated in Niue in 2003, the files show that he had used the name of the company to buy an apartment in central London.
Some information sighted by ghanabusinessnews.com shows that there are a total of 38 Ghanaian names in the Panama Papers.
The information lists three Ghanaian companies, one client, 10 beneficiaries and 24 shareholders, bringing the total to 38. ghanabusinessnews.com is making efforts to access the specific details of this list.
The trove of 11.5 million leaked internal documents, about 2.6TB of data, shows how hundreds of thousands of people are using anonymous shell companies across the world to hide their money.
The leak is the biggest in journalistic history.
According to German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which first received the leaked documents and worked with other journalists to obtain more documents, the data in the so-called Panama Papers, “provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows. It proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous: from politicians, FIFA officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.”
The information in the leak covers the activities of the Mossack Fonseca firm over a period from the 1970s to spring 2016.
The leak claims to expose the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and provides data on the financial activities of 128 other politicians and public officials from different countries.
The investigation involves about 370 journalists from more than 100 media.