Solidarity on Monday called on liquidators of the failed mining company Aurora to investigate Khulubuse Zuma after his name was mentioned in the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of 11.5-million files from the database of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm specialising in offshore business.
Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s controversial nephew, was found guilty last year in connection with stripping mine assets and causing the loss of thousands of jobs.
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He was named on Monday in the explosive Panama Papers, a veritable treasure trove of leaked documents that has blown the lid off the secretive offshore world used by the world’s rich and powerful to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in certain jurisdictions.
The scandal, which implicates a wide array of characters, including political figures from more than 50 countries – from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Argentine President Mauricio Macri, has focused international attention on the often shady world of offshoring.
“Khulubuse Zuma’s name was implicated with about 140 people who are under suspicion of having used banks, law firms and foreign front companies to conceal their assets,” said Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity.
“We have approached the liquidators dealing with the Aurora case to investigate Khulubuse Zuma. We would like to know at what stage Zuma transferred money to Panama and whether it was during or shortly after his term as a director of Aurora,” said Du Plessis.
Solidarity said it had also asked the liquidators to bring a court application to freeze all Zuma’s offshore assets “since it appears that he is hiding money abroad in view of the pending appeal judgment”.
“Zuma and his fellow directors were found guilty, jointly and severally, of damage amounting to R1.7-billion because of their reckless and corrupt management of the Pamodzi mine assets,” said Du Plessis.
“If the appeal fails, Zuma and his fellow directors will have to comply with the order, or else they will be sequestrated should they fail to comply.”
Based on the 11.5 million files leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, the report by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) implicates a cast of characters who used offshore companies to facilitate deals and practices including tax evasion, financial fraud, drug trafficking and arms deals.
The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the ICIJ.
The report’s entry on Zuma says: “A mining magnate, Khulubuse Zuma has reportedly enjoyed a lifestyle of cigars and up to 19 collectible cars.
“In June 2015, a South African court found Zuma liable as chairman in the collapse of a gold mining company that led to more than 5 000 job losses. In court submissions, Zuma denied responsibility for the company’s failure.
“Zuma was authorised to represent Caprikat Limited, one of two offshore companies that controversially acquired oil fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In late summer 2010, as published reports raised questions about the acquisition, British Virgin Islands authorities ordered Mossack Fonseca to provide background information on Zuma, which the law firm had not previously obtained.
“That same year, Mossack Fonseca decided to end its relationship with the companies.
“Zuma and representatives of the companies have rejected allegations of wrongdoing and claimed the oil deals are ‘quite attractive’ to the DRC government.”
The Panama Papers scandal, which has been described as the biggest leak in history, promises to claim many victims as the authorities in various countries take action against their nationals. – African News Agency (ANA)
Look out for more today on African leaders implicated in the leaks.