By Will Fitzgibbon
Government officials, arms merchants and corporations have spirited away millions of dollars from destitute West African nations through offshore tax havens, an investigation by journalists from the region and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found.
Offshore companies were set up for a global engineering firm that avoided paying millions in taxes to Senegal, one of the world’s poorest countries; for a little-known entrepreneur who won a contract to build West Africa’s largest slaughterhouse and for a well-connected arms trafficker from Chad. In several cases, the companies, as well as the companies’ transactions and offshore bank accounts, were not declared or are only now being revealed in more detail.
The findings were drawn from a collection of almost 30 million documents, representing several leaked financial records obtained by and shared with ICIJ since 2012.
From Cape Verde’s islands of white-sand beaches and rocky volcanoes to Niger’s vast deserts, West African countries are plundered by companies and individuals, while governments do little to stem the flow.