Panama Papers Revelations: US Department of Justice Investigating Corruption and Blood Money

Emmanuel Ndahiro (middle), Personal Doctor, Security Advisor, External Intelligence Chief and Business Partner of Rwandan General Paul Kagame (right)

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

"We are aware of the reports and are reviewing them. While we cannot comment on the specifics of these alleged documents, the US Department of Justice takes very seriously all credible allegations of high-level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the US financial system,” US Department of Justice Spokesperson Peter Carr has told the media, while referring to what is now known as the Panama Papers Revelations.

The Panama Papers Revelations refer to the leak of around 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca that were given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.

Among the revelations contained in the leak are the financial dealings by world political leaders or their close associates, stars, business magnates,

dictators and their frontmen or front women or relatives. One may find the dealings of the following people or their close associates or relatives:  Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iceland Prime Minister Sigumundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president, Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, Ayad Allawi, former vice-president of Iraq, Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine, Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu, twin sister of Joseph Kabial, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,  General Emmanuel Ndahiro, private doctor and security advisor of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame and former head of External Intelligence Services, Hatari Sekoko, the business partner of Paul Kagame's relatives, Kenya’s deputy chief of justice Kalpana Rawal,  Kojo Annan, the son of former United Nations general secretary Kofi Annan, John Addo Kufuor, the son of Ghanian president John Agyekum Kufuor and many more.

However, the issue is where the money came from, how it was transferred and through what channels. Some transactions are legal and the product of tax loopholes in Western countries. But others are believed to come from corruption and aid embezzlement, with catastrophic consequences, especially on developing countries.  Africa’s losses may be most damaging, stymying economic growth on the continent.

On a positive note, some funds held by dictators, if proven to come from corruption, kickbacks and embezzlement may be covered by existing laws in Western countries. And that is what the US Department of Justice spokesperson appears to refer to. 

The Panama Papers revelations are a tip of an iceberg but also an open secret, as corrupt leaders and their relatives and associates have been working on creative ways to stash money in various countries. Some leaders, such as Joseph Kabila have several relatives and associates hiding riches around the world (see here: Mugaru Christopher, Kabila's Personal Accountant and Janet Kabila in Havana, Cuba). Others, like Paul Kagame of Rwanda are believed to have created front companies around the World, especially in Erytrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Djibouti, Angola, and Turkey but also in the West. These front companies are managed by legitimate business people, but with the main purpose of money laundering.

While such activities, if legal, may mean "that we’re not investing as much as we should in schools, in making college more affordable, in putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, creating more opportunities for our children, ” as President Obama put it, it may be a matter of life or death in Africa.

According to some indications, the money stashed in foreign accounts by African dictators is blood money. For example, in Rwanda, General Paul Kagame's associates started hiding money in Panama  through London, UK, in 1998 after the army invaded the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, then Zaire. General Paul Kagame's army engaged in massive systematic looting of financial and natural resources, including gold, diamond, tin, and precious wood,  and systematic massacres of Congolese and Rwanda refugees, amounting to 7 million deaths to date. The United Nations have labelled the massacres "acts of genocide". At the same period Rwanda was receiving huge billions of foreign aid, most of which is believed to have been embezzled and is being found in Panama Revelations.

It is such money, from looting, embezzlement and corruption funding front companies in the United States and the Europe that may be the target of the US Department of Justice and the European judicial systems.