A new investigation into the role of Mauritius in offshore tax avoidance – an investigation aided by a leak of more than 200,000 documents from one law firm – suggests that plenty of poor African nations are harmed by the loss of revenue.
That’s according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which says it pursued its “Mauritius Leaks” project through a collaboration of 54 journalists working in 18 countries.
The emails, contracts, business plans and other documents came from a prestigious offshore law firm, Conyers Dill & Pearman, and offer “a rare window into corporate tax avoidance in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” the ICIJ said.
Those documents and other public records reveal attempts by corporations and individuals to exploit tax rules in Mauritius while avoiding taxes in Egypt or Mozambique. The names of global corporations like Walmart and Whirlpool, which do business in Africa, come up in the records.
So does an airline that worked with the United Nations to deliver humanitarian aid in conflict zones, the ICIJ said, as does the name of Bob Geldof, the antipoverty musician famous for his “Live Aid” concerts and emphasis on Africans.
“Mauritius is a bit like the Luxembourg of Africa,” said Tove Ryding, policy and advocacy manager for tax justice at the European Network on Debt and Development. Mauritius has “specialized as a gateway to Africa so we see a lot of corporations that come and set themselves up in Mauritius because it allows them to transfer money in and out of Africa without incurring much tax.”
Officials in Mauritius did not comment on the project, which launched publicly on Tuesday, according to ICIJ.
Complete details and reporting from the project are available here.