Thursday, April 21, 2016

Panama Papers: Bracelet of businesses

THE Beny Steinmetz Group is perhaps the most successful, and controversial, diamond company you’ve never heard of. It’s the biggest buyer of diamonds from Anglo American’s diamond arm, De Beers, and a supplier to the luxury jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. But it is also a company that has been investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations in six countries, and was accused of bribing Mamadie Touré, the wife of Guinea’s former dictator Lansana Conté, to score a $10bn iron concession in 2008 for $165m.

Given that profile, it’s no surprise that the group, started by the Israeli tycoon of the same name, has fought hard to avoid the spotlight. But, given an alleged tax avoidance scam in SA and an ongoing US grand jury probe into Guinea, Steinmetz hasn’t been able to avoid the headlines entirely.

Perhaps to mitigate this public glare, Steinmetz supposedly sold his 37.5% share in Steinmetz’s diamond segment, Diacore, to his brother, Daniel, in 2014.

However, leaked details from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, distributed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, suggest Steinmetz might not have actually stepped away from the business at all.

The leaked Panama Papers shed light for the first time on the labyrinthine structures Steinmetz put in place to distance himself from the business.

It’s a trail that also reveals much about why Africa’s west coast — despite being one of the most diamond-rich regions on earth — remains dirt-poor while companies like Steinmetz are minting it. And in many cases, these spoils get ferreted off to some secretive offshore tax haven.  (more...)

That's how it's done, folks. Cecil Rhodes would be proud.

No comments:

Post a Comment