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Pandora Papers: Secret fortune of Kenya president’s family exposed

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Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and six members of his family secretly owned a network of offshore companies, according to an investigation published on Sunday.

The Pandora Papers investigation involving some 600 journalists is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 law firms and service providers in Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other tax havens.

Kenyatta and his six family members have been linked to 13 offshore companies. The offshore investments, including a company with stocks and bonds worth $30 million, were found in the documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other news organizations.

The documents show that a foundation called Varies was set up in 2003 in Panama. Kenyatta’s mother Ngina was named as the first benefactor with Kenyatta himself as the second benefactor, who would inherit it after Ngina’s death.

It is not known the purpose of the foundation and the value of its assets. It is also not known if Kenyatta knew about the foundation, which was set up at a time he had lost the 2002 presidential election to opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki.

Daniel arap Moi, a friend of the Kenyattas, was the outgoing president. A 2014 report by Kroll cited by BBC claimed that the family of Moi moved money out of the country.

The Kenyatta family is known in Kenya for its various business interests in hotels, insurance, transport, farming, land ownership and the media.

The documents cited by the ICIJ show that the Kenyatta family established their political and business interests during the rule of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta. Jomo’s fourth wife Ngina helped expand the family’s business interests after Jomo’s death.

Per the documents, Ngina and her two daughters, Kristina and Anna, set up an offshore company in 1999 called Milrun International Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Ngina and her daughters were advised by international wealth experts from the Swiss bank, Union Bancaire Privée (UBP), according to ICIJ. The Swiss bank recruited Alcogal, a Panamanian law firm that sets up and runs offshore companies.

The Swiss advisers referred to the Kenyattas with the code “client 13173”, per invoices from Alcogal to the bank cited by the ICIJ. Alcogal made available a registered office for Milrun in the British Virgin Islands, with staff members that were made to act as the company’s official directors.

“The result was an entirely anonymous company that could not be traced back to the Kenyatta family,” BBC writes.

Ngina and her daughters allegedly used the company to buy an apartment in central London, which is now estimated to be worth close to $1.3 million. Records also show that Union Bancaire Privée helped manage a foundation for Uhuru’s brother, Muhoho.

Setting up offshore entities is not illegal, but some have been used as means to avoid taxes and divert money. There is no evidence that the Kenyatta family stole or hid state assets in their offshore companies, according to the investigation.

Kenyatta, who has vowed to fight corruption, has said he would “respond comprehensively” to the leak as soon as he returned from a state visit abroad, BBC reported.

The Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents exposing the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, politicians, billionaires, celebrities and business leaders.

Source: face2faceafrica.com

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