By Purity Mukami and Simon Bowers

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, the political dynasty that has dominated Kenyan politics since independence, for many years secretly owned a web of offshore companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, according to a new leak of documents known as the Pandora Papers.

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Investigations involving money are not always about kleptocrats and big corporations: some of the biggest perpetrators of exploitative finance also exist in everyday life.

An investigation led by Namrata Sharma, the former chair of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Nepal, in collaboration with Luc Caregari from Reporter.lu and Finance Uncovered, was a harrowing illustration of that.

Building on a previous story involving human trafficking and modern slavery in the Nepali restaurant trade in Finland, Namrata used her extensive contacts in the south Asian migrant community across Europe to expose alleged wrongdoings in one of the continent’s richest countries, Luxembourg. Her story was published in the Nepali Times in August 2021.

Workers at a popular Nepali restaurant in the Grand Duchy told her of serial beatings and other human rights abuses by the owner. Not only that, they also alleged he had effectively trafficked them from Nepal, luring them to Luxembourg by providing money for their work permits, then confiscating their passports and controlling their bank accounts as he shammed the authorities into believing they were properly salaried employees – while in reality withdrawing their wages for himself and making them work for free for a year.

Initially deterred from speaking about by the fear of repercussions from the small, closed Nepali community in Luxembourg, the workers had the courage to blow the whistle and take their allegations to the police. The investigations are ongoing.

Namrata (pictured above) believes there is a significant pattern in the way some Nepali restaurateurs operate in Europe. She is working with other whistleblowers and is trying to trace if and how profits made from such exploration are laundered back home in Nepal.

*Main photo shows the scarred head of an alleged victim who claimed he was regularly beaten by the owner of the restaurant he worked in.

*Anyone wishing to provide any additional information on similar practices can contact us here confidentially at Finance Uncovered and we will pass on your details to Namrata if requested.

*Namrata attended our Money Trail training session in Jakarata in February 2019. Her investigation was funded by Journalismfund.eu as part of the Money Trail project.

By Lionel Faull, Ted Jeory and Purity Mukami

A senior anti-corruption adviser to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari today issued a stinging rebuke to Boris Johnson’s claim that Britain is “not remotely a corrupt country” – saying the UK is in fact a major enabler of looted funds from his own country.

Professor Sadiq Isah Radda, who is the executive secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption in Nigeria, told the British Prime Minister that London was actually “the most notorious safe haven for looted funds in the world today”.

He said “actions speak louder than words and talk is cheap” and challenged the PM to deliver a long-promised law that would help stem the flow of dirty money into UK property, as highlighted by the Pandora Papers investigation last month. 

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by Simon Bowers

Finance Uncovered in October 2021 revealed a series of secret offshore entities set up for the family of Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta. The investigation was part of a global collaboration, organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in which more than 600 journalists sifted through a leak of almost 12 million files, known as the Pandora Papers.

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By Simon Bowers, Lionel Faull and Purity Mukami

A Finance Uncovered graphic (below) reveals a wave of cash flooding into London property from elite Nigerian politicians and business figures using offshore secrecy vehicles.

The interactive visualisation, produced using data leaked in the Pandora Papers and other similar investigations, offers a further indication that there was a mushrooming of UK property purchases by Nigerian-owned offshore companies.

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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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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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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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