Cameron’s Congo – Connection

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Panama-Papers shed light on Corruption and Neo-Colonialism in Africa: Jeannot Matadi Nenga Gamanda

 

by Ralph T. Niemeyer, editor-in-chief

British Prime Minister David Cameron already has a hard time to explain his diseased father’s role in managing offshore companies for rich clients of Blairmore Holdings that advertises in its brochure that “Ian Cameron, a director of the company, was instrumental in the formation of Blairmore Holdings Inc.” and explains that the fund is designed to “provide investors with steady long-term capital growth over and above the global rate of inflation”. David Cameron grew up like an aristocrat with a golden spoon in his mouth.

Nothing wrong with that in a kingdom, one may think, but his family was not stealing from the poor directly but indirectly from the crown. Prime Minister Cameron’s dad wrote in said brochure that “the affairs of the fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for UK taxation purposes.” He continued explaining that the firm has access to banking services in Panama as well as auditors and trading offices in the Bahamas. Blairmore Holdings was certainly keen to convince investors that the business would be beyond the reach of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. David Cameron not only held shares of some 30,000 GBP in Blairmore Holdings which he sold only days before his debut in Number 10, but he used his father’s business contacts.

Someone like the Camerons do not have any sense of having done anything wrong. This explains why David Cameron defended his late coming out in the Commons with being furious about how one had spoken about his dad. Understandable, but not professional, that’s why the spin went fatally wrong for the Prime Minister.

David Cameron grew up in legally accumulated wealth in excess of 25 million Pounds Sterling which may be seen by critics as illegitimate. One may also imagine that young David who certainly looked up to his dad, learnt that hard work was not for people like theirs or his classmates in Eton and fellow students in Oxford, but that family roots and connections were the key to success.

At least this sensibility Prime Minister Cameron shows when appointing a former Morgan Stanley Investment Banker and today’s Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, who shared with Ian Donald Cameron the passion to perfectionise tax avoidance schemes and become one of his advisors. When Vodafone’s zero-corporate-tax bill and it’s Luxembourg-holding came under scrutiny, Prime Minister Cameron in the eleventh hour again sensed that he better put blue water between Mr. Colao and himself, especially since word was on the street that big guys in the “City” financed the anti-Brexit campaign after Mr. Cameron had negotiated successfully with the EU to grant the “City” autonomy from any financial regualtions that might become EU law.

This is vitally important since Great Britain was transformed under Prime Ministers Margret Thatcher, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown in a way that equaled de-industrialization, putting the fate of the UK into the hands of investment bankers who in the “City” create more than 67% of British GDP while agricultural production accounts for less than 1% making it become logic why British politicians are so eager to get their hands on countries like Zimbabwe.

And, of course also Vodafone objects leaving the EU as the Brexit would endanger it’s offshore tax avoidance scheme, so one can imagine how Vittorio Colao rang up a few of his pals in the “City” to make them donate money to David Cameron’s pro-EU – campaign.

But, David Cameron and Vittorio Colao also had business interests in South Africa and other African states. In 2011 Mr. Colao accompanied the Prime Minister and met with leaders such as President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

For Vodafone a lot is at stake in Africa and it seems Mr. Colao got kind of a problem there with Vodacom, the South African provider, of which Vodafone is holding 65% shares, and that aggressively attempts to expand into other African markets such as Democratic Republic of Congo where Vodacom acquired 51% shares of Congolese Wireless Networks (CWN), behaving like cowboys as local media described the ruthless takeover – coups almost got Vodacom managers into prison in DR Congo.

 

The only man who then could help save Vodacom’s directors from prison as well as the reputation of the company was one Moto Mabanga, who organized President Mandela’s 80th birthday celebrations, and today a philanthropic businessman who attributes his wealth to a large degree to making Africa a better place by investing into social projects and fighting vigorously against corruption.

As it is common business practice a success fee was offered by Vodacom International to Mr. Mabanga, but although a settlement was being reached between Vodacom and CWN, Mr. Mabanga had to take Vodacom International to court in order to protect his rights since Vodacom failed to pay the agreed fee over 3 years. And, although Mr. Mabanga won the case against Vodacom, he still did not see his money. But, when his lawyers and independent journalists investigated the matter, it transpired that a conspiracy to defraud Mr. Mabanga was under way.

Investigations show that Vodafone continues conducting its African business interests through the Vodacom International Limited at the Mauritius off shore setup which includes the Congo business (probably advised by offshore-expert and Vodafone – CEO Vitorrio Colao).

 

The leaking of the Panama-Papers further shed light on the corruption in Democratic Republic of Congo as Bloomberg News reported: Jaynet Kabila, the twin sister of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s president and a lawmaker, has an indirect stake in Vodacom Group Ltd.’s operations in the country, documents show, shedding light on the wealth the opposition says has been accumulated by the first family.

Kabila owns half of Keratsu Holding Ltd., a company with a 9.6 percent indirect stake in Vodacom Congo Sprl, according to incorporation documents dated December 2011 and obtained by Bloomberg from the companies registry of the South Pacific state of Niue. Two people with knowledge of Vodacom Congo confirmed her shareholding, declining to be identified because her involvement isn’t public knowledge.

 

Kabila’s indirect stake in the country’s largest mobile-phone operator provides a clue of the network of economic interests that opposition politicians say the presidential family has accumulated since her father seized power in 1997. President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded their father after his assassination in 2001, is barred by the constitution from running for a third term. Opposition leaders say he is delaying elections scheduled for November to hold on to power.

And, it was observed by investigative journalists that Vodafone’s lawyer, Alexander Brabant of DLA Piper, who once served as a marine in the Congo during Mobutu-days, shuttles frequently from Paris to Mauritius with cash dollars allegedly in order to corrupt officials in Congo.

But, all this might influence Vodacom’s lawyer in the DR of Congo to be a current minister in the government: Minister of Energy DRC, Hon. Jeannot Matadi Nenga Gamanda. In any democratic country such meddling would be considered a serious conflict of interest, so the honorable minister handed the file to a partner in his firm.
This may return like a boomerang as the Panama-papers point to the reasons and journalists won’t have to dig much to connect the dots to expose them all leading up to Vodafone-CEO Vittorio Colao and his friend David Cameron as soon word might be on the street that there are also Mauritius-papers in the pipeline since such corruption could not sustain from the UK directly.

 

letters to the editor: niemeyer@eu-chronicle.eu

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