Over the course of 18 months, Naipanoi Lepapa, a freelance investigative journalist from Nairobi, who attended a Finance Uncovered training course in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2019, delved into the murky world of surrogacy in Kenya.

Working with several vulnerable women who had acted as surrogate mothers for mainly international clients, Naipanoi uncovered worrying allegations about how the industry operated in her home country.

These ranged from coercion, exploitation and intimidation of surrogates, apparent human trafficking of birth mothers and children, forced abortions and identity forgery and fraud.

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By Lionel Faull and Ted Jeory

Embattled Kenyan betting giant SportPesa has “disputed” the astonishing Sh95 billion (£633 million) total that the Kenya Revenue Authority says it owes in unpaid taxes.

The figure, reported by the Daily Nation newspaper in January, is thought to be one of the biggest amounts ever claimed from a company by the Kenyan tax collector. 

The Daily Nation article was based on a leaked letter from the KRA to SportPesa’s main entity in Kenya, Pevans East Africa, in which it detailed its findings from a preliminary audit of the company’s tax affairs from 2015 to 2019.

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By Simon Bowers and Martin Bright.

British oil major BP paid $100 million to cancel a shipyard construction project in Angola only for a third of the money to be promised to a Panamanian company run by a powerful and allegedly corrupt Angolan official, according to whistle-blower documents seen by Finance Uncovered.

The documents shine new light on the enormous influence of oil executives at the top of Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol, who have for decades acted as gatekeepers to Sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest hydrocarbon reserves.

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Mohammad Bassiki, an exiled Syrian journalist and founder of investigative news site Siraj, attended our London illicit finance training in September 2018. During his week in London, Moha mentioned story ideas he thought we could help him pursue.

A few months later, having obtained a Money Trail grant from the Journalismfund.eu, Mo returned to London and together in our office, we developed some leads.

We focused on the Syria president, Bashar Al-Assad’s efforts to reconstruct the country after a brutal civil war had seen an estimated 6.2 million people internally displaced.

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On Monday, renowned Bangladesh investigative journalist, Rozina Islam was arrested and detained on allegations of stealing confidential official documents and espionage.

Rozina is a senior correspondent for Prothom Alo, a leading daily national newspaper in Bangladesh. For the past month, she had been reporting on corruption and mismanagement in the health sector – a vital public interest endeavour.

We, at Finance Uncovered, were lucky enough to meet Rozina when she attended our Investigating Illicit Finance training in 2018.

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On December 3, 2019, the UK’s National Crime Agency announced a £190 million out-of-court civil settlement with Malik Riaz, an enormously wealthy and controversial property tycoon from Pakistan. It was the largest settlement ever made by the NCA, which added that the outcome did “did not represent a finding of guilt”.

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* This article was updated as per the note at the end of the piece on February 26, 2021.

The fortunes of Kenya’s once mighty betting giant SportPesa have been dealt yet another blow after two advisory companies that are key to its international operations severed ties — raising further questions over its future.

They include Equiom, SportPesa’s registered agent in the Isle of Man (above), which has provided corporate services, such as maintaining company records, in the betting-friendly tax haven since 2015.

The other is London law firm Ince GD Corporate Services which has acted as its UK company secretary since 2017.

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by Margot Gibbs and Mostafa Yousuf

In 2018, aged just 43, Mojidul Haque* developed severe breathing problems, consulted a doctor and was diagnosed with asbestosis, a potentially fatal respiratory disease which scars the lungs. After more than a decade working in the shipbreaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh, he lost his job, and the means to support his family.

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