/ 4 April 2016

Botswana appeals court judge had several offshore accounts – #PanamaLeaks

A view over a savanna at the Mashatu game reserve on July 27
A view over a savanna at the Mashatu game reserve on July 27

The president of the Court of Appeal in Botswana, Judge Ian Stuart Kirby, is among many African leaders who had offshore accounts in a company which is fingered for fronting for “questionable” businesses, it has been revealed.  

According to the Panama Papers, Kirby was a shareholder in several companies that held accounts at Mossack Fonseca between 2005 and 2009.

Kirby started off as the shareholder of Bellbrook Estates Limited in 2005. The company that carried out unspecified activities in the United Kingdom, according to a 2014 list by Mossack Fonseca of active companies for which it served as a registered agent.

Although specific details of the offshore companies in which Kirby held shares were not available, at least three of those firms held properties, including commercial real estate, in the United Kingdom.

According to Kirby, these companies were special purpose vehicles, formed by a joint venture to acquire, develop and resell a particular property in the UK as an investment.

He was quoted as saying that he and his wife were persuaded to invest in the companies, with the hope of receiving returns that would keep them ahead of inflation. 

“One or two have worked out, but most not, because the worldwide recession intervened. Overall, we have lost most of our investment,” Kirby was quoted saying.

The Panama Papers are a tranche of millions of leaked financial documents detailing a trove of billions sheltered in tax havens, and pocketed by political power players around the world. 

The documents were leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca and published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

They are an unprecedented investigation that reveals the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent figures.

The investigators spent at least a year sifting through 11.5-million leaked files to expose the offshore holdings of world political leaders, links to global scandals, and details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.

The trove of documents is likely the biggest leak of inside information in history. It includes nearly 40 years of data from a little-known, but powerful, law firm based in Panama. – News24