Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

US probes DRC oil deal with Khulubuse Zuma tie

Craig McKune & James Wood

Picture: Khulubuse Zuma. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

An oil deal originally fronted by Khulubuse Zuma is being probed by US federal authorities, the latest leak to emerge from the explosive Panama Papers shows.

This forms part of a wider bribery investigation into Och-Ziff Capital Management, a US hedge fund manager, about its investments in Africa. The US justice department is pushing Och-Ziff to plead criminal guilt, according to the Wall Street JournalBut its lawyers have reportedly argued that it was not criminally liable and are seeking a lesser sanction. 

The  Panama Papers have provided the first clear indication that deals involving South Africans formed part of the US authorities’ probe into Och-Ziff’s suspected dodgy dealings. 

In 2010, Zuma was presented as the owner of companies to which Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila awarded oil rights. 

Later in 2010, Och-Ziff financed the development of the oil fields through a $110m loan. Initially, the intended owners of the the companies were Israeli Dan Gertler and South African businessman Mark Willcox.

Willcox said he never took up a shareholding. 

The oil field is 100%-controlled by Gertler, who has admitted he and Kabila are friends. 

The Panama Papers contain correspondence made in July and September last year, in which the British Virgin Islands attorney general ordered law firm Mossack Fonseca to produce all records in respect of Foxwhelp and Caprikat, the companies registered in the British Virgin Island that acquired the oil rights and are controlled by Gertler. 

Under threat of a fine or imprisonment, Mossack Fonseca complied, the documents show. 

The attorney general’s correspondence indicated that the source of the request was the US probe of Och-Ziff. 

At the time of the oil deal, another of Gertler’s companies was doing business in the Congo in partnership with Africa Management, a firm at which Willcox was CEO. 

Willcox said he had no knowledge of Och-Ziff financing the oil fields and had not been contacted by US authorities. 

The Panama Papers were first leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shared the documents with other journalists. 

In 2010, Zuma signed the contracts for Foxwhelp and Caprikat. He also travelled with Willcox to Kinshasa for talks about the oil field. At the time, Zuma said that his uncle, President Jacob Zuma, played no role. 

Willcox’s lawyer, Rael Gootkin, said his client’s role “was after the allocation of the rights … to utilise his expertise in capital raising and introducing oil majors as partners”. 

In 2014, Och-Ziff disclosed it was being probed by the US justice department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible breaches of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.


The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter and help us do more. Know more? Send us
a tip-off.

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and access the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, you can a full year’s access for just R510. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

James Wood 1
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is contesting all 14 of the IFP-run Nkandla local municipality’s wards

Andries Tatane’s spirit will drive fight against ANC in Ficksburg

The nascent Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is confident it can remove the ‘failing ANC’ in the chronically mismanaged Free State municipality

Paddy Harper: On gleeful politicians and headless chickens

Paddy Harper doesn’t know who to vote for yet, since the Dagga Party isn’t contesting his ward, but right now what to order for lunch is a more pressing concern

Malema: ANC will use load-shedding to steal votes

While on the campaign trail in the Eastern Cape, EFF leader Julius Malema, without evidence, claimed the ANC was planning to use rolling blackouts to ‘steal votes’
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×