Panama Papers have hit the headlines showing a global network of offshore companies that help the wealthy hide their assets from tax authorities, launder the proceeds of criminal activities or conceal misappropriated or politically inconvenient wealth. The dealings were facilitated by a Panama based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The scandals include among others Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, who had an undeclared interest linked to his wife’s wealth. Furthermore, according to the French paper “le Monde”, Syria used Mossack Fonseca to create shell companies to help it break international sanctions and fund its war effort. The Rwandan Minister of Finances Ambassador Claver Gatete, has confirmed that a company called <<Debden Investments Ltd, an offshore company mentioned in the “Panama papers” was established in 1998, by the then transitional Government of Rwanda. It was registered under the names of two close associates of President Kagame. They include Brigadier Gen. Emmanuel Ndahiro and Mr Hatari Sekoko. Emmanuel is a confidant of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, having served as the president’s physician, security adviser and spokesman. He also served as military spokesman when Kagame was Vice President and Minister of Defence from 1994–2000. Ndahiro headed Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services from 2004–2011. In 2015, Kagame promoted him to Brigadier General. Mr Hatari Sekoko became a soldier in 1990 when the RPF started the war and became driver of the family of President Kagame during the war.
The controversial law firm Mossack Fonseca helped the two associates of President Paul Kagame register, in the British Virgin Islands tax haven, a company called, Debden Investments Limited in September 1998, with a registered capital of $50,000.
While Dr Ndahiro has been rising in military ranks since 1998 from Major to General, his associate Hatari is now a big business tycoon. He owns many companies and is Director of Century Park Ltd which is going to construct a multimillion park in Kigali, estimated at $207 million (two hundred and seven million). The venture will constitute construction of high-end apartments, and will host a five-star Sheraton International Hotel, home villas, up-market apartments and other facilities. The company was recently involved in the construction of Kigali City Tower (a skyscraper) and Marriot Hotel.
He is said to have travelled with the President Kagame nephew Byusa to set a company in Panama “Colina Enterprise”, which subsequently purchased a building from one Bright Grahame Murray for almost £2 million. The building is rented by the Rwandan High Commission in London. He set another company “Repli Investments 29 (pty) Ltd”, a company registered in South Africa under him and Jean Paul Nyirubutama, alleged to be a close relative to the 1stlady Jeannette Kagame. The company was said to own two US$50 million Bombardier Jets, which the Rwandan government rents for the travels of President Paul Kagame. When this came out to light the two aircrafts changed hands and are said to belong to the ruling party business enterprise “Crystal ventures, the second largest employer after the government, and Mr Hatari is Board member. The overall boss is President Kagame, chair of the Party. Mr Hatari is believed to be a frontman for President Kagame family businesses.
It is hard to believe that such transactions could escape the attention of the President Kagame or his intelligence services. Therefore, he is not likely to order an investigation against his close associates.
The Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur has resigned while Australia, France and the Netherlands have announced investigations into revelations contained in the papers. A judicial source said Spain had opened a money-laundering probe into the law firm.
The political opposition platform calls on international donors to carry our investigation regarding the possible siphoning of the much needed Rwandan cash to private companies or the evasion of tax by people close to the regime. We urge also President Kagame to clear his names over allegations of his indirect involvement in these fraudulent dealings.
We would like to recall that has received substantial aid of over $12 billion since President Kagame has been in virtual control of the country, making Rwanda the biggest per capita ODA recipient in East Africa. Rwanda ODA capita was in 2012, $77; Kenya, $61; Tanzania, $59; Burundi, $53, and Uganda, $49.
Washington April 8, 2016
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa