Guinea: “Paradise Papers” Reveals Bribery Involvement of Former Guinean First Lady Mamadie Toure

Philadelphia, PA USA – Nov 10, 2017 -Data contained in the Paradise Papers, which is a giant leak of off shore financial records exposing global crime and corruption has named Madam Mamadie Touré, the widow of late Guinean President Lansana Conté, as a person involved in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme for mining rights in the poor West African country.

Former First Lady of Guinea Madam Mamadie Toure
Former First Lady of Guinea Madam Mamadie Toure

Information seen by West African Journal investigative team quotes US authorities as alleging that Madam Toure “received $5.3 million in bribes to help a mining company obtain rights to the world’s richest iron ore deposit.”In 2014, federal prosecutors were granted a request to and raided the home of Madam Toure in Jacksonville, Florida. Properties seized including restaurant equipment and an ice cream cooler together were worth about $1million.

The leaked information contained in the database of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) disclose that Madam Toure was granted legal Power of Attorney by a British Virgin Islands company known as Matinda Partners to, among other things, “…negotiate,conclude, sign, execute and deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable to it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as “the assets”) on such terms as the Attorney shall consider proper or desirable in his absolute discretion…”

Late President Lansana Conte
Late President Lansana Conte

Shortly thereafter in 2006, the leaked information revealed that the widow of the late General Conte entered into a business relationship with an un-named mining company. However, at the time, BSGR, a mining company owned by an Israeli magnate Benny Steinmetz, in partnership with a Brazilian firm, owned iron ore rights in the Simandou and Zogota area of Guinea.

In December, 2014, the FCPA online blog reported that as part of a federal grand jury probe of BSGR’s business dealings in Guinea, Madam Toure had become “co-operating witness” a year earlier. She reportedly wore an FBI wire to record a conversation with a middle man for the BSGR company. In the recorded information, the middle man, a French national named Frederic Cilins, is heard offering millions of dollars in bribe to Madam Toure, if she would agree to lie to US prosecutors and destroy incriminating evidence.

Map of Guinea
Map of Guinea

The Guinean government later revoked the mining licenses of BSGR, accusing it of obtaining its license through corrupt means. It’s Brazilian partner known as Vale SA. BSGR denied any wrong-doing and its Brazilian partner was never implicated in any wrong doing.

U.S. authorities, according to the leaked documents in the Paradise Papers, alleged that Matinda Partners, which had earlier granted Madam Toure Power of Attorney, was used as a go-between entity to funnel $5.3 million to her “to help it win a disputed mining concession from her husband, then President Lansana Conte, shortly before he died in late 2008…”

As part of effort to reduce her public exposure and connection with Matinda Partners during the scheme, Madam Toure reportedly utilized “stand-in” shareholder companies Beneficence Foundation and the Swiss based Agefor SA as covers. Madam Toure has admitted to the bribery scheme and has been cooperating with U.S. authorities.

Ellen-Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Also included the ICIJ database is Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was listed as a Director of the Bermuda registered offshore company known as Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012.

Mr-Ken-Ofori-Atta
Mr. Ken Ofori Atta

Databank, was co-founded by an investment banker and current Finance Minister of Ghana Mr. Ken Nana Yaw Ofori-Atta.

In response to a request for comment, ICIJ reports that. “Stephen D. Cashin, chief executive of Pan African Capital and a board member of Databank, responded to a request for comment from Sirleaf-Johnson that Songhai was designed for offshore investors to invest in Ghana’s Databank and that Databank had no business in Liberia. President Johnson-Sirleaf was elected to the board of Databank before being elected president, he told ICIJ, and she has no interest in Songhai or Databank. Cashin said Sirleaf-Johnson actually resigned from Songhai before her election campaign, but the resignation was “not effected” until 2012 due to “an administrative oversight” in Bermuda.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf began her first term in January, 2006. No wrongdoing is attributed to her or Ghanaian Minister Ofori-Atta from information contained in the ICIJ database.

Governments around the world have begun to scrutinize the participation of companies, politicians and their nationals who are mentioned the the Paradise Papers and their involvement in secret and questionable offshore dealings.

The ICIJ, in its disclaimer, notes that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts and it does not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.

This ICIJ database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks and some from politicians featured in the Paradise Papers investigation. The data covers nearly 40 years up to early 2016 and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.

By Staff Reporter

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: CDC Calls For Run-Off Elections To Get Back On Track Quickly

In Liberia, the leader and Presidential contender of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is calling for the electoral process to be put back on track in timely manner.

Senator George-Weah
CDC Senator George Weah

Senator George Manneh Weah, who won 38.4 % of the October 10th Presidential vote, told his supporters on Tuesday evening at his party headquarters in Monrovia to remain peaceful pending the resolution of the Liberty Party’s complaints now before the National Elections Commission (NEC).

“They used to say that we CDC (Weah’s party) are hooligans, we are troublemakers, and in 2017 we know who the real troublemakers are. We are aware of all their tactics, all of their provocations, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted,” Weah said to party supporters.
The CDC is calling for a speedy resolution of the issues raised by the Liberty Party (LP) in order for a new date to be announced for the run-off elections.

The Liberty Party (LP) petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia to halt the run off elections which were scheduled for November 7th, citing “fraud and irregularities” in the process. The Court, after hearing arguments last Friday from legal counsels of the Liberty Party (LP) and the National Elections Commission (NEC), halted the process and instructed the NEC to quickly hear and resolve the complaints raised by the Liberty Party before a new date is set for run-off elections.

Liberian Politicians
Liberian Politicians

No time-frame has been announced for the disposition of the issues raised by the Liberty Party (LP) which has now obtained the support of the ruling Unity Party of contender and incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).

The four parties, meantime, on Tuesday announced preliminary discussions on the formation of a “coalition” to support Vice President Joseph Boakai in the run-off elections with Senator Weah.

No formal commitments have been made by the parties but they say discussions are on-going.

Staff Reporter

West African Journal

Botswana Police Ranked Africa’s Best; Nigeria at Bottom – Global Report

Africa’s best police service is that of Botswana despite being ranked 47th best in the world. This is according to the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by two bodies, the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

Boatswana Police
Boatswana Police

The index ranked the Rwandan police as Africa’s second best (with global position of 50th) followed by Algeria (58th), Senegal (68th) and Tunisia (72nd) in that order. Completing the top 10 for Africa were, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Africa and Mali respectively.

WISPI measures the ability of the police and other security providers to address internal security issues in 127 countries, across four domains, using sixteen indicators,” authors of the report stated. The four domains are, capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.

 

Despite the failure of Africa to break into the top forty, the continent was very prominent in the lower rankings. Six African countries were in the bottom 10. Cameroon and Mozambique in the 120th and 122nd spots.

Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria made it an African quartet at the bottom – occupying 124th to 127 slots respectively.

Map of Boatswana
Map of Boatswana

At the top of the global rankings, Europe dominated with eight countries. Except first place Singapore and Australia in sixth spot, all the other countries were in Europe – Finland, Denmark, Austria, Germany (2nd – 5th), Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (7th – 10th).

About the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI)

The aim of the WISPI is to, firstly, measure security provider performance across the four domains of internal security: capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.

Secondly, to see how these domains relate to each other and finally to track trends in these domains over time, and to inform the work of security providing agencies, researchers, and practitioners in the field of peace and conflict studies, criminology, and police studies.

World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI)

Gambia: Water Crisis Hit Jamali Babou Village

The Foroyaa Newspaper quoting residents of Jamali Babou, a village in the Niani District of the Central River Region North of the Gambia, say the area has been hit with a serious water crisis, as their only hand-pump well broke down.

Map of Gambia
Map of Gambia

According to the information, the residents of the village now travel over two kilometres daily to fetch water from other villages, and this is escalating their drudgery.

Upon receiving the information, this reporter visited the village to ascertain the veracity of the information.

According to Njoba Khan, the water crisis in the village is caused by the broken hand-pump well, the only available one in the village as a source of portable water.

 She said the hand-pump well was dug in 2001 and as a result of its breakdown, they have to walk for over two kilometers to get water from neighboring villages. “This long trek in search of this essential commodity daily, is increasing our drudgery and suffering,” she confirmed.

Rohey Ndow on her part, said the water crisis in the village has impacted negatively on their health because water is an essential element in life to ensure sanitary hygiene.

According to her, apart from their domestic consumption of water from the well, they also use the well to provide water for their domestic animals.

Aminta Jobe on her part, also shared the same view with others but added that Government and Non-governmental Organisations should help them address the problem to save the women from travelling daily, in search of water in other villages.

Foroyaa Newspaper, Gambia

Sierra Leoneans Return To Give Back To Their Communities

After living in the United States for over a decade, Usifu Bangura returned to Sierra Leone to reunite with his family and to do his bit in rebuilding a country still recovering from civil war.

Usifu launched a project to improve access to clean water for people in Kambia, the village where he found his mother after tracing the process of his adoption.

Republic-of-Sierra-Leone
Map of Sierra Leone

Using Hippo Water Rollers or drums that are designed to roll over different types of terrain, residents can now transport up to 90 litres of water per trip.

I decided to come back to my home country to see my family after fourteen years as well as to bring any kind of humanitarian relief that I can.

“I decided to come back to my home country to see my family after fourteen years as well as to bring any kind of humanitarian relief that I can, specifically to the use of hippo rollers, he said”

Usifu gets the tanks from South Africa and has rallied donors to help fund his initiative.
Sierra Leone, ranks among the bottom of the U.N. Human Development Index, and according to WaterAid, third of the population does not have access to safe water.

His Bangura Project has also introduced water filters. He has also been holding discussions with residents to find out more about pressing needs of the community.

They are also been holding discussions with residents to find out more about pressing needs of the community.

“ It reduce child labor and that is very very great,in those days when we do not have it, actually when we want to send our children they cannot go and they are not happy because — They enjoy this roller,” said Kambia resident, Chernor A. Mansaray.

Usifu’s mother, Fatou Sankoh gave him up for adoption in 2004 after Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. His father had been killed and his mother could not afford to raise him and his siblings.

He was in the country for 6 months this year before returning to the states.

Usifo is working on partnering with the government and local organizations on a larger scale to develop community run projects to improve clean water supply in rural parts of the country.

Reuters

Zimbabwe Court Grants Bail To U.S. Citizen Charged With “Subversion”

HARARE (Reuters) – A high court judge in Zimbabwe said on Thursday the state’s case against a U.S. citizen charged with trying to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government lacked facts and ordered that she be granted bail.

Zimbabwe High Court
Zimbabwe High Court Building

Martha O‘Donovan has been in prison since Saturday, a day after she was arrested on accusations of insulting Mugabe in a Twitter post. Police later leveled the more serious charge of subversion, which carries a possible 20-year jail term.

Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe

In granting her bail, High Court Judge Clement Phiri said there was a “patent absence of facts” in the state’s case.

“The applicant has demonstrated that she should be granted bail. It is my finding that it is in the interests of justice that the applicant be given bail,” Phiri said.

O‘Donovan was not in court. Phiri ordered her to deposit $1,000 with the court, surrender her passport and report to the criminal investigations department twice a week as part of her bail conditions.

Her lawyer Obey Shava said O‘Donovan would be released on Friday after completing administrative procedures. Amnesty International said in a statement the case showed that Zimbabwean authorities had contempt for freedom of expression.

Reuters

Liberia: New Coalition Discussing “Merger Talks” To Support Boakai

VP Joseph BoakaiPhiladelphia, PA USA – Reports from the Liberian capital Monrovia say four political parties in the small West African nation have been holding “merger talks” in order to support incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai against his Presidential challenger and leader of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

According to a senior source with knowledge of the matter, the merger discussion took place Tuesday, November 7th, the same day planned for run off elections between the two contenders who are hoping to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is stepping down after two full terms.

The talks include the Liberty Party(LP) led by Senator Charles Walker Brumskine whose party filed a petitition with the country’s highest court complaining of “fraud and irregularities” in the October 10th Presidential and General Elections and to stop the run- off elections between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) and Senator George Weah of the CDC.

According to party Chairman of the ruling UP Mr. Robert Kpadeh, ” …What you see today is a strong signal to the world that they are coming together to fight for democracy.”We strongly believe that Weah cannot run this country.”

The UP official did not definitely state who the four political parties are that are holding “merger talks.”

The Liberian Supreme Court has come under criticism for halting the run-off elections’; a situation which could potentially lead to a constitutional crisis, if a new date is not set for the run-off elections and the inauguration of a new President when incumbent President Johnson Sirleaf’s term ends in January. The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday which effectively halted the run-off elections and instructed the National Elections to expeditiously handle the complaint of the Liberty Party before a new run-off date can be set.

Vice President Joseph Boakai, the candidate of the ruling Party told the AFP, “I had doubts the NEC was competent enough to administer an election that would be free, fair and transparent.” The party itself has accused President Johnson-Sirleaf of interference in the electoral process.

The Unity Party and Alternative National Congress (ANC) have thrown their support behind the Liberty Party’s petition which cites irregularities and fraud.

A Liberian Woman Being Helped to Cast her Vote
A Liberian Woman Being Helped To Vote

The emergence of a new coalition front involving the ruling party and other political against parties portends political uncertainty for the immediate future in Liberia including speculation of the installation of an interim government. No political party has so far warmed to the idea of an interim mechanism, citing constitutional succession guarantees.

 The CDC says it is concerned that a political crisis could erupt if the Supreme Court annuls the result of the October 10th elections. “We are concerned about attempts by certain members of the Supreme Court’s bench to mis- or wrongfully interpret our constitution, with the view of now creating a constitutional crisis,” CDC Chairman Nathaniel McGill told Bloomberg News by phone. “The election should proceed, that’s what we hope for.”

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

 

Tragedy: Bodies of 26 Nigeria Women Pulled From Mediterranean Sea

ROME — In a rather tragic circumstance, it is being reported that the bodies of 26 young Nigerian women and girls have been retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend and taken to Italy.

Map of Italy
Map of Italy

According to the New York Times , officials have launched an investigation into how the young Nigerian women died.

A official in the port city of Salerno says, “It is a tragedy for mankind.” He says local prosecutors will start work quickly to determine if the deaths were homicides. The bodies of the deceased and nearly 400 migrants who were also rescued from the Mediterranean Sea were taken to Salerno.

Marco Rotunno, the communications officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy estimates that the young women were between the ages of 14 and 18.

Migrants
Migrants

According to the New York Times report, the bodies were found floating in the water by the Spanish Navy on Nov. 3, and survivors on nearby rubber dinghies, which had partly capsized, told the authorities that they were Nigerian and had departed from Libya.

No one has claimed any of the bodies and it is still unknown if any of the surviving migrants are related.

Hundreds of Africans make the perilous journey through north Africa, especially Libya, to Europe in search of a better life. European navy officials say they have seen an increase in migrants in the last few years but with tragic results too.

Meantime, latest reports now say 2 arrests have been made. Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar from Libya and Mohammed Ali Al Bouzid from Egypt were arrested later on Tuesday.

The were captains of the boat on which the nearly 400 migrants were crammed.

West African Journal and Wires Services

 

STARTFOR Analysis: The U.S. Ignores Sub-Saharan Africa at Its Own Peril

Highlights 

Despite the historically low-priority status of sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S. military, the U.S. security focus on the region will continue to grow given the systemic weaknesses that militant groups exploit there. 

The use of a light footprint strategy — including special operations forces, drones, and cooperation with local partners and allies such as France — will enable the United States to project force at minimal cost. 

Although President Donald Trump’s administration opposes funding multinational efforts such as U.N. peacekeeping missions, the U.S. military will continue to emphasize local partnerships with nations in sub-Saharan Africa. 

US Flag
US Flag

Sub-Saharan Africa has long been a low priority for the United States. Since taking office in January, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has confirmed that status, cutting foreign aid budgets that disproportionately affect Africa and turning its focus to other issues and areas. Yet events in recent weeks have magnified the region’s prominence in U.S. foreign policy. On Sept. 24, for example, the Trump administration added Chadian nationals to the list of people facing travel restrictions. Four U.S. service members died in Niger the following week during a mission with local troops. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently visited Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And on Oct. 20, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly told senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military would increase its counterterrorism activities in sub-Saharan Africa, loosen rules of engagement and give commanders in the field more decision-making power. Despite the Trump administration’s actions, the region now appears to be receiving more attention from U.S. policy-makers. 

A Rising Security Priority

U.S. military investment in sub-Saharan Africa has been quietly growing for years. This October, in fact, marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), one of nine unified combatant commands. The continent has been a key testing ground for the U.S. military’s “small footprint” strategy, which emphasizes partnerships with local forces and cooperation with allies such as France. The strategy also stresses the role of special operations forces, drones and training facilities known as Cooperative Security Locations or “lily pads” in an effort to avoid the perception of an overbearing, neocolonial U.S. military presence. (Washington tried to establish a permanent headquarters on the continent when it first rolled out AFRICOM but moved its main offices to Germany after populations and governments in Africa pushed back against the idea.)  

africa-conflict-areas-white
African Conflict Map

As the U.S. military’s interest in sub-Saharan Africa has grown, its priorities in the region have shifted. The United States initially focused on East Africa — and particularly on the fight against the al-Qaeda affiliated militant group al Shabaab. In Somalia, U.S. military trainers have provided extensive assistance to the Somali army and to the multinational African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM. But over the past several years, West Africa has started drawing more of the United States’ attention. The chaos that consumed Libya after the fall of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 spilled over into nearby Mali, along with militants and weapons. In 2013, an offensive from allied jihadist and Tuareg nationalist forces prompted France to intervene to bolster the Malian army and keep the West African country from collapse, with considerable logistical support from the U.S. military. The incident opened the Pentagon’s eyes to the glaring security risks in the Sahel, the ecological transition zone between the Sahara and the savannah that traditionally has fallen in France’s sphere of influence. Putting aside their Cold War rivalry in the region, Paris and Washington began working together more closely in sub-Saharan Africa.  

Resistance From Washington

The Trump administration, however, may set a limit on the partnership. For months Washington has oscillated between wariness and hostility at the prospect of backing the Sahel joint force, a counterterrorism effort made up of battalions from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Though Trump has pledged $60 million to the project, he has also indicated his displeasure with funding multinational efforts. France, which has devoted considerable resources to help establish the force since President Emmanuel Macron came to power, is getting frustrated with the lack of financial and political support from the United States. During a trip to Washington in mid-October, the French defense minister reportedly asked the United States to increase its assistance for the Sahel joint force, stating that Paris was looking for a long-term strategy to ease its security burden in the region. 

 Trump’s distaste for funding programs such as U.N. peacekeeping missions, combined with the reports that the Pentagon wants to increase its activities in Africa, makes for an interesting contradiction. Nevertheless, the current administration is unlikely to break with its predecessors’ policies, which tried to minimize U.S. military action in favor of local solutions. Senior officials in the U.S. armed forces overwhelmingly agree on the need to keep investing in local partnerships, even as Trump pushes for more aggressive action against militant groups around the world. Considering that the Sahel — a region whose vast, isolated terrain falls largely under the governance of poor, weak states — will struggle indefinitely with instability, maintaining this strategy is essential. Increased activity in sub-Saharan Africa, moreover, comes with unavoidable risks for U.S. policymakers.

To strengthen forces in Niger, for example, U.S. service members will have to accompany their local counterparts on potentially dangerous missions, much as they have in Somalia. And the inherent environmental and logistical challenges that await them in the desolate lands of the Sahel will raise the odds of complications or casualties.

The rise of terrorism has driven home the reality that the United States can’t afford to disregard sub-Saharan Africa. Though the continent has long been low on Washington’s list of priorities, the recent proliferation of militant groups in the Sahel offers a stark reminder that the United States ignores the region at its own peril. 

Source: Stratfor is the world’s leading geo-political intelligence platform based in Washington DC

 

US Welcomes Election Schedule in DRC

Washington DC

Following overdue elections, the National Electoral Commission known as CENI in the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that the process will now take place in December, 2018.

US Sec of State Rex Tillerson
U.S. Sec of State Rex Tillerson

In welcoming the decision, the U.S. State Department says “the DRC has taken a significant step toward realizing its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power. It is now incumbent on the CENI, the government, opposition party leaders, civil society organizations, and the people of the DRC to work together to ensure that the electoral deadlines published by the CENI are respected, and that all actions and statements remain within the framework of the DRC constitution and the December 2016 St. Sylvestre Agreement.”

 

Map of DRC
Map of DRC

In a press statement issued on Tuesday in Washington DC. and copied to West African Journal Magazine, the Trump Administration noted the “importance of President Kabila abiding by the DRC’s constitution, reaffirmed in the St. Sylvestre accord, that he will not seek a third term and will step down following elections.”
The U.S. State Department noted ” the urgent need for the DRC government to implement the confidence building measures included in the December Agreement. This includes an end to politically motivated prosecutions, the release of political prisoners, and respect for the right of peaceful assembly and association, so that opposition parties and civil society organizations may hold peaceful public meetings without government interference or intimidation.”

 

DRC President Joseph Kabila
DRC President Joseph Kabila

Citing long running violence and logistical issues in the Kasai region, the electoral body said it was impossible to hold elections in the area. The DRC led by President Joseph Kabila has seen an upsurge in protest and violence since his the expiration of his second full term in December , 2016.
Attempts to  change the constitution to allow Kabila to continue in office have been met with violent citizens protests in which some people have died.

The United States says it “is committed to working with the people and institutions of the DRC, the African Union, regional and international partners, and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to ensure that the estimated 45 million Congolese voters are able to cast their ballots on time and as scheduled in December 2018.”

West African Journal Magazine