ICIJ · The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The Panama Papers Reading List

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Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

Police in Panama arrested the founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, on money laundering charges Thursday after authorities raided the firm’s headquarters as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal.

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Tax Agencies Draw Up ‘Target List’ of Offshore Enablers

Tax agencies from 30 countries convened in Paris this week to take part in the largest ever simultaneous exchange of tax information and to share results and details on thousands of investigations sparked by the Panama Papers.

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Panama’s Revolving Door Shows Global Challenge of Offshore Reform

In a country where top-drawer lawyers move freely between high government posts and law firms selling secrecy-cloaked shell companies, bringing lasting change to the offshore industry is a challenge.

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Journalists Hang Tough in Face of Backlash Against Panama Papers Reporting

Reporters have faced consequences both in nations where media crackdowns are common and also in nations with reputations for high levels of press freedom.

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Panama Papers Have Had Historic Global Effects — and the Impacts Keep Coming

The investigation has produced an almost daily drumbeat of regulatory moves, follow-up stories and calls by politicians and activists for more action to combat offshore financial secrecy.

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BVI Hits Mossack Fonseca With Largest Fine Ever After Panama Papers Investigation

The $440,000 penalty followed a six-month investigation which included on-site compliance inspections and the appointment of an officer to monitor Mossack Fonseca's operations.

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Experts Who Quit Panama's Transparency Commission Produce Their Own Report

Report's authors say that the U.S. and EU have the power to force other nations to embrace transparency reforms by threatening to cut off access to their financial systems.

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Pakistan's PM Responds to Supreme Court Hearing on Panama Papers

Nawaz Sharif defended himself before the nation’s highest court, as opposition supporters celebrated in Islamabad.

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Panama Hires PR Firm Amid Ongoing Panama Papers Fallout

A PR firm is being paid $50,000 a month to help the Panama government, while arrests, protests and more continue around the world.

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Hedge Fund Sues Mossack Fonseca For Alleged Obstruction of Justice in Nevada

Confidential emails revealed in the Panama Papers have opened a new front in a bitter court battle in Nevada involving a hedge fund led by an American billionaire, new court filings show.

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Experts Quit Panama's Transparency Committee Over Lack of Transparency

The committee was established in the wake of the Panama Papers to probe Panama's financial services industry, but now two out of three international members have resigned.

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Continent of Secrets: Uncovering Africa's Offshore Empires

Africa receives $50 billion of foreign aid money annually, but then loses roughly the same amount through illicit outflows. Can you uncover Africa's offshore empires? Play now!

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Secret Offshore Deals Deprive Africa of Billions in Natural Resource Dollars

The Panama Papers show how politicians and mining, oil and gas interests benefit from secrecy and dubious multimillion dollar transfers.

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Secret Documents Expose Nigerian Oil Mogul’s Offshore Hideaways

A dealmaker’s backstage maneuverings are revealed in the Panama Papers as he hung with celebrities while criminal investigators closed in.

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Diamond Mine with Offshore Ties Leaves Trail of Complaints

The Panama Papers reveal a network of shell companies linked to a mining operation that has been accused of environmental harms and unpaid taxes.

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Out of Africa, Into Tax Havens

As visitors come to see what’s in Africa, some safari operators’ profits head offshore.

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Reporters Warned, Inquiries Opened as African Nations Respond to Panama Papers

Mossack Fonseca targeted clients in Africa for business, but now some of those clients have become targets themselves as authorities launch investigations into the Panama Papers revelations.

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Panama Papers Credited As New EU Anti Money-Laundering And Tax Abuse Rules Proposed

The European Commission has announced it will tighten the European Union’s anti-money laundering rules and increase transparency requirements for companies and trusts.

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Venezuela and Panama To Launch Joint Panama Papers Investigation

The joint investigation will be the "first of its kind," and Venezuela's attorney general has hinted at a long list of suspects.

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European Inquiry to Call UK Chancellor, Mossack Fonseca to Testify

A special 65-member Panama Papers committee of inquiry has been created by the European parliament to investigate potential wrongdoing exposed by ICIJ's investigation.

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Mossack Fonseca's US Operations Under Pressure, Island Offices Closed

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate in Nevada has resigned from more than 1,000 companies and paid a penalty to the state amid investigations on multiple fronts.

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US States Under Pressure As World Pushes For Financial Transparency

Nevada, Wyoming and Delaware are facing growing pressure over their lack of corporate transparency, as the United States and the international community continue to respond to fallout from the Panama Papers.

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The Malefactors of Mossack Fonseca

Meet The Dutchman, the Queen of the South, the Boss of Bosses and other convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who have benefited from services provided by the law firm.

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Panama Papers Include Dozens of Americans Tied to Fraud and Financial Misconduct

Mossack Fonseca's files include offshore companies linked to at least 36 Americans accused of serious financial wrongdoing, including fraud and racketeering.

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Beyond Panama: Unlocking the world’s secrecy jurisdictions

The 21 jurisdictions covered by the Panama Papers data vary from the rolling hills of Wyoming to tropical getaways like the British Virgin Islands. But all have at least one thing in common - secrecy is the rule.

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Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities.

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US Officials React to Panama Papers Disclosures With Get-Tough Proposals

The Obama administration has proposed a national registry documenting the real owners of shell companies and other measures aimed at fighting offshore chicanery.

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Iceland’s First Lady Linked to Offshore Investments

Records in the Panama Papers and the Swiss Leaks leaked files tie the wife of Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson to offshore companies and accounts.

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Coming Soon: ICIJ to Release Panama Papers Offshore Companies Data

The database, to be released on May 9, will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.

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Cartel-Linked Suspects Arrested After Panama Papers Revelations

Uruguayan prosecutors are seeking to bring to trial at least five individuals detained on suspicion of laundering money for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.

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US Prosecutor Opens Investigation Into 'Panama Papers Matters'

ICIJ welcomes the interest from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, but has made it clear it won't be turning over its data or taking part in any investigation.

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Banks Ordered to Provide Info on Panama Dealings to NY Regulator

More than a dozen banks identified in the Panama Papers investigation have been asked to hand over details of their communications with Mossack Fonseca.

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Art held offshore

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Pakistan's PM Leaves Country, Spanish Minister Resigns

Nawaz Sharif faces growing pressure and calls for his resignation, a Spanish minister has stepped aside, and more governments are pledging reform as fallout from the Panama Papers revelations continues.

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Panama Police Raid Mossack Fonseca As Global Fallout Continues

The search of Mossack Fonseca's Panama headquarters comes after a number of raids and official action taken in response to the Panama Papers revelations.

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Global joint investigation to be proposed at special tax meeting

Tax officials from 28 nations met in Paris to develop a strategy for collaborative action based on Panama Papers revelations.

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British PM Announces New Transparency Measures Following Panama Papers Revelations

David Cameron appeared before parliament on Monday to address concerns about his own links to offshore holdings revealed in the Panama Papers, as well as announce reform aimed at boosting transparency.

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The Art of Secrecy

Locked in the files of a Panama law firm are the answers to mysteries involving Van Goghs, Picassos, Rembrandts and other masterworks.

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Panama Papers Spark High-Level FIFA Resignation and Swiss Police Raid

Swiss police searched the office of Europe's top soccer association and a member of FIFA's ethics panel resigned following Panama Papers revelations.

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Leaked Files Offer Many Clues To Offshore Dealings by Top Chinese

Eight current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top decision makers, have relatives with secret offshore companies.

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Spies and Shadowy Allies Lurk in Secret With Help From Offshore Firm

Firm helps CIA operatives and other characters — real or fanciful — from the world of espionage set up offshore companies to obscure their dealings.

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Iceland Prime Minister Tenders Resignation Following Panama Papers Revelations

The prime minister of Iceland said he would resign following mass protests triggered by reports from ICIJ and partners that he had owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands with his wife.

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Law Firm’s Files Include Dozens of Companies and People Blacklisted by U.S. Authorities

Global law firm’s customers include suspected financiers of terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferators and gunrunners.

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How Family that Runs Azerbaijan Built an Empire of Hidden Wealth

Documents peel away three layers of secret ownership in a conglomerate and lead to gold mines and overseas real estate.

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Global Banks Team with Law Firms To Help the Wealthy Hide Assets

Leaked records show that hundreds of banks and their subsidiaries and branches registered nearly 15,600 shell companies.

About this project

The Panama Papers is an unprecedented investigation that reveals the offshore links of some of the globe’s most prominent figures.

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All Putin’s Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader

Complex offshore financial deals channel money and power towards a network of people and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin.

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Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.

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Panamanian Law Firm Is Gatekeeper To Vast Flow of Murky Offshore Secrets

Files show client roster that includes drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders — and wrongdoing galore.

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Leak Ties Ethics Guru to Three Men Charged in FIFA Scandal

Secret documents show how deeply the world of soccer has become enmeshed in the world of offshore havens.

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Iceland’s Prime Minister Ducks Question But the Answer Catches Up with Him

He came to power after the country’s financial collapse while hiding his offshore holdings of millions in bonds from Icelandic banks.

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How the One Percenters Divorce: Offshore Intrigue Plays Hide and Seek with Millions

Firm that practices no matrimonial law nonetheless plays big role when the superrich around the globe decide to split.

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Secret Documents Expose Nigerian Oil Mogul’s Offshore Hideaways

Panama Papers reveal dealmaker’s backstage maneuverings as he hung with celebrities and criminal investigators closed in

By

In this story

  • Oil magnate tied in media reports to former petroleum minister is now wanted by Nigerian authorities
  • Five offshore companies used to buy property, take out loans and register aircraft, according to files
  • Even after a string of serious allegations in the press, Mossack Fonseca helped process a $30 million loan for client

In September 2015, Beyoncé sat on a yacht drinking sparkling wine with her legs wrapped under a striped, earth-toned blanket as the Faraglioni rocks, near Capri on Italy’s west coast, passed by.

The singer and her husband, Jay Z, paid a reported $900,000 that week to sail the Mediterranean Sea on the Galactica Star, a 65-meter private cruiser with a helipad, 10 dining areas, Jacuzzi and sun deck.

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-02.jpgUnknown to the celebrity couple, the yacht’s owner was soon to be a wanted man.

Held through a shell company created by the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal, Mossack Fonseca, the yacht is now caught up in a massive investigation in Nigeria. The government claims the yacht was bought with profits from crude oil sales that were diverted and never paid to authorities.

The Galactica Star’s owner is Kolawole Aluko, a petroleum and aviation mogul who is one of four defendants accused of helping to cheat Nigeria out of nearly $1.8 billion owed to the government on massive sales of oil. In a separate investigation, Nigerian authorities are also reportedly probing whether Aluko helped smuggle millions of dollars out of the country as kickbacks to Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Aluko is part of a constellation of Nigerian oil executives, state governors, cabinet ministers, military officials and tribal chiefs within the Panama Papers. Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-headquartered law firm with offices around the world, worked for three former Nigerian oil ministers who used companies to buy boats and homes in London, the records show.

The prevalence of Nigerians within the Panama Papers may be no coincidence. Nigeria loses more money from illicit activity, including graft and corporate tax abuse, than any other African nation, research by anti-corruption groups indicates. As much as 12 percent of Nigeria’s annual gross domestic product is lost to illicit financial flows, according to Oxfam.

“Our firm, like many firms, provides worldwide registered agent services for our professional clients (e.g., lawyers, banks, and trusts) who are intermediaries,” Mossack Fonseca told ICIJ. “As a registered agent we merely help incorporate companies, and before we agree to work with a client in any way, we conduct a thorough due-diligence process, one that in every case meets and quite often exceeds all relevant local rules, regulations and standards to which we and others are bound.”

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-03.jpgMossack Fonseca declined to answer specific questions and said, in providing its services, “we follow both the letter and spirit of the law. Because we do, we have not once in nearly 40 years of operation been charged with criminal wrongdoing.”

In October 2015, London police questioned Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s oil minister from 2010 to 2015, as part of investigations into allegations of bribery and money laundering. The investigations are ongoing. The ex-minister, who graduated with an architecture degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1992, is in London undergoing cancer treatment, her lawyers said in a public statement.

Media reports have described Aluko as a key ally to Alison-Madueke, a relationship both have previously denied. He rose to prominence around 2011 when Nigeria’s government awarded two companies he founded or owned valuable oil blocks on a no-bid basis. One of his companies, Atlantic Energy, was created the day before it inked the deals to acquire multimillion-dollar oil licenses.

Aluko is part of a circle of oil traders who are the subject of frequent media speculation in Nigeria. His lifestyle has earned him the reputation of being Nigeria’s playboy. He bought an apartment in Manhattan for $8.6 million and, according to The New York Times, paid more than $70 million to buy four homes in Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills.

The Nigerian government won a court order in May freezing assets linked to Aluko, two companies he directed and one of his business partners. The Lagos High Court order listed Aluko’s yacht along with property in London, four homes in California, two penthouses in Manhattan, one in Dubai, 132 houses and apartments in Nigeria and land in Canada and Switzerland. The court also ordered Aluko not to sell or dispose of more than $67 million in four bank accounts in London and Switzerland, an assortment of watches, a 58-car collection and three airplanes.

Through a representative, Aluko told ICIJ that “I have never been prosecuted and convicted in any country. I am aware that a criminal investigation was started in the UK. However, to date I have not been made aware of any law enforcement action to be undertaken against me.”

Aluko told ICIJ that the information relating to the award of oil contracts to his company was “misguided” speculation.

“As a private citizen I organise my business and family matters to maximise convenience, as well as operational and administrative efficiency. My companies operate in accordance with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdictions and, insofar tax liabilities arise, they pay taxes in the jurisdictions in which taxes are due to be paid.”

Criminal charges for alleged crude oil fraud against Aluko were dropped in July as a result, according to media reports, of authorities’ inability to locate and serve legal documents on the Swiss resident.

Despite repeated efforts, ICIJ was unable to reach Alison-Madueke. In previous statements published online and attributed to the former minister, Alison-Madueke has denied all wrongdoing.

News reports in Nigeria and Britain indicate that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency and Switzerland’s Attorney General are investigating Aluko for his role in companies and transactions that were allegedly used to conceal Alison-Madueke’s transfer of wealth outside Nigeria.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General confirmed to ICIJ that it had received a request from the United Kingdom in relation to Aluko. U.K. authorities and the FBI did not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-04.jpgMossack Fonseca’s internal records show that Aluko owned four companies in the British Virgin Islands, one of the world’s busiest offshore havens. He was director of another, Fragola Ltd, in the Seychelles. In May 2013, Aluko paid $11.05 million to buy Almaty United Investors Limited, a BVI company that owned property in Dubai.

One of Aluko’s companies, Earnshaw Associates Limited, was directed on paper by a succession of three companies in Nevis, Switzerland and the BVI, financial hubs prized for their secrecy. The company was incorporated three weeks after Alison-Madueke was appointed to head the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in April 2010.

In March 2014, Earnshaw Associates registered a Bombardier Global Express jet in Malta, according to documents sent through Mossack Fonseca. The 18-seat Bombardier is the same model of aircraft that Nigerian media reported Alison-Madueke used during her time in office.

Oil chief

Long before Aluko, Mossack Fonseca had faced questions about its Nigerian customers. In 2007, when the firm’s employees realized that an offshore company was being used by a former advisor to Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s president from 1999 to 2007, Jürgen Mossack reminded his staff that “in this firm, everyone knows that dealing with Nigerians always gives you headaches. It’s inevitable that this case involves a crime or fraud.”

Other suspect Nigerian deals seemed to have passed unnoticed.

One crude oil sale contract between three offshore companies, for example, provided for commissions so high that, one expert consulted by ICIJ said, the most obvious explanation is that the oil was stolen. Another file is a $12 million loan from a shell company to a Nigerian typed on half a sheet of paper.

“I had to sign dozens of pages of paperwork for my home loan,” said Aaron Sayne, a financial crimes lawyer and expert witness in dozens of oil fraud cases in Nigeria, after looking at the document. “And my home certainly isn’t worth $12 million.”

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-06.jpgIn 1995 – 15 years before Alison-Madueke became Nigeria’s first female petroleum minister – Chief Dan Etete was sworn into the same office.

Etete, a mustachioed power-player from the oil-rich Bayelsa State, served as oil minister until 1998. His tenure became the subject of investigations after he left office. He was convicted in France of money laundering, and authorities in three countries continue to examine allegations that portions of a billion-dollar oil deal involving a company linked to Etete were transferred or pocketed as bribes by political figures and middlemen.

The Panama Papers reveal that Etete and the company, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, signed a consultancy agreement with an offshore company created by Mossack Fonseca to negotiate the sale of oil blocks to China, a deal that never proceeded. Others documents appeared under Etete’s reported alias, Omoni Amafegha. Amafegha’s company, Pentrade Securities Inc., featured the signature of Richard Granier-Deferre, a French oil trader who was fined approximately $200,000 in 2007 by a Paris court as an accessory to Etete’s money laundering. The company was incorporated in 1998 when Etete was oil minister and opened a bank account in Gibraltar. Amafegha also owned Henkel Investments Ltd, which bought a boat in January 1998.

Etete denied using Amafegha as an alias and said he had never heard of Pentrade Securities Inc. or Henkel Investments. He denied owning or having owned Malabu. “It’s all just enemies that created this misinformation,” said Etete.

“I have nothing to do with any Panamanian companies,” Etete told ICIJ. “I have never been there or sent anyone there to open an account.”

The fall

At his peak, the oil magnate and luxury yacht owner Aluko was a globetrotter whose round face regularly graced celebrity Instagram pages and entertainment tabloids. When he was spotted in Paris in October 2013, Nigerian media trilled at the suggestion he was dating supermodel Naomi Campbell.

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-05.jpgThat same year, he launched a $500 million infrastructure development fund alongside Hollywood actor Jamie Foxx and partied in New York City at Leonardo DiCaprio’s 39th birthday bash. He was snapped at the side of rapper P Diddy in Ibiza, Spain, the following summer. The music star tweeted a photo of himself alongside a smiling Aluko with the caption “NIGERIA I LOVE YOU.”

At the same time, tongues wagged back home. Aluko was regularly cited in Nigerian media as one of “the minister’s men,” a clique of Nigerian oil traders who had burst onto the scene and secured a string of oil licenses from Minister Alison-Madueke’s office with startling ease. In 2011 and 2012, Aluko’s Atlantic Energy, which boasted of “strong government relationships,” grabbed eight crude oil licenses in the Western Niger Delta. Atlantic sent tens of millions of dollars of crude oil to Italy, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere throughout 2012 and 2013, according to documents seen by ICIJ.

In September 2014, however, rumors floated in Nigerian media suggested that Aluko and his companies had fallen out of favor with Alison-Madueke. By September, Atlantic defaulted on its loans and owed Nigeria $1.3 billion in cash and other obligations. The Nigerian government and banks sent out confidential pleas to would-be angel investors in the hope they would be willing to step in with $700 million and fill the hole left by Atlantic’s bankruptcy.

Two months later, Mossack Fonseca employees doing a routine background check on Aluko discovered online news articles claiming that Nigerian authorities might ask Interpol, the world’s police body, to help extradite the magnate. Interpol has denied it ever sought the Nigerian. And while the internet chatter was enough to spook some of Mossack Fonseca’s employees, the firm remained at Aluko’s service.

It wasn’t until June 2015 that Mossack Fonseca took a second look at Aluko, after it received a demand from the British Virgin Islands Financial Investigation Agency to produce documents about Earnshaw Associates.

Mossack Fonseca told BVI authorities that “we do not have information about any bank accounts or assets held by” Earnshaw, despite having signed documents more than a year earlier to help Aluko’s company register a private jet.

In August 2015, the situation grew worse when the law firm realized it had no contact or personal documentation for Aluko. One Mossack Fonseca employee worried that this was a potential breach of the BVI’s requirement that offshore middlemen keep such information for at least five years after a company is mothballed.

An employee sought help from Aluko’s Swiss wealth manager, Johnnie Ebo Quaicoe, and shared links to four unflattering online news articles.

“I’m dumbfounded that Mossack Fonseca will print excerpts from tabloids,” Quaicoe wrote from Geneva.

“If Mr Aluko is truly a wanted person,” Quaicoe chided Mossack Fonseca, “he would not be difficult to find because he is a resident in Switzerland.” Swatting the concerns aside, Quaicoe instead asked Mossack Fonseca to assist with a “major” $30 million mortgage with a Luxembourg bank. The loan was to be provided by Banque Havilland S.A. The collateral securing the loan would include the Galactica Star, the boat that Beyoncé and Jay Z had rented for their Mediterranean cruise.

articles/00Africa/160725-nigeria-07.jpgMossack Fonseca agreed to process the paperwork needed to pull off the loan.

But concerns continued.

In September 2015, a Mossack Fonseca employee discovered new media reports that alleged Aluko was “on the run from the law over several controversial and fraudulent dealings in the petroleum industry.” Employees handling the loan deal asked colleagues for “comfort to proceed without being seen as facilitators to money laundering activities and corruption.”

By October 2015, Mossack Fonseca had had enough – almost.

It cut its final ties with three of Aluko’s four companies, which had been inactive since 2014, and prepared a memo for BVI authorities outlining the law firm’s concerns about Aluko’s activities.

Before sending the memo, however, Mossack Fonseca certified the $30 million loan for Aluko’s Earnshaw Associates. A Mossack Fonseca employee justified the decision to help push through the paperwork by noting that the firm had already been working on the same loan transaction for months.

Quaicoe told ICIJ he could not discuss his work with Aluko. “I conduct business in accordance with the laws of the relevant jurisdictions pursuant to the contracts of services concluded with my clients,” Quaicoe said.

Ross S. Delston, a Washington, D.C., attorney and anti-money laundering expert, said that in general, banks, other financial institutions and financial intermediaries such as law firms, real estate agents and trust and company service providers should be skeptical whenever they’re dealing with clients who are involved in the oil business, are rumored to have close connections to politicians, have been subjects of negative news stories and come from countries, like Nigeria, that are considered high-risk geographies for corruption, money laundering and other financial crimes.

“Taken together, these indicators and risk factors present not just red flags for money laundering or other financial crime but rather can be characterized as fireworks on the Washington, D.C., Mall on the Fourth of July,” Delston said.

As Aluko was securing his loan, the heat on Alison-Madueke and her friends was increasing. In October 2015, a small number of Alison-Madueke’s family members appeared in a London court on bribery and corruption charges, and police seized some of the minister’s assets, including $39,000 in cash. Nigerian authorities have continued to arrest and arraign other alleged Alison-Madueke confidants.

In May 2016, the Lagos Supreme Court granted the Nigerian government’s request for an order freezing assets linked to Aluko and three others. The four owed Nigeria $1.76 billion dollars in unpaid dues from crude oil sales, the government’s court filings alleged, and had shuffled “large sums to offshore accounts.”

The amount “is equal to the combined 2016 budgets of about 4 States in Nigeria which monies would be utilized to cater for about 13 million” people, the government noted. Nigeria had suffered “immense losses and damage” thanks to the failure by Aluko and the others to pay what they owed.

The court has frozen both of the assets used by Aluko to secure his $30 million loan in late 2015 – the luxury yacht and the Manhattan apartment in the 157 W. 57th Street skyscraper known as “The Billionaires Building.”

Aluko and the three other defendants “could use phony companies to dispose or dissipate their assets” out of Nigeria’s control, the government argued in an effort to keep Aluko and the others from selling off their assets before authorities could confiscate them. The government pointed to the sale, in April 2016, of Aluko’s 15,000- square-foot home in Beverly Hills as a sign “of desperation,” an indication of his desire to avoid “the long arms of the law.”

In July, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission laid charges in court against several Nigerians with alleged ties to former minister Alison-Madueke. In a last-minute change, Aluko’s name was dropped from the charge sheet after government prosecutors admitted they had been unable to serve him with documents.

Contrary to his wealth manager’s claims, it seems, Aluko remains difficult to find.

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