Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal and the British human rights organisation, RAID revealed that the US hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group has been one of the main financial backers of Dan Gertler, a businessman at the centre of a string of controversial mining deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Och-Ziff revelations show that these Congolese deals were facilitated by major players in the global financial hubs of New York and London, often through subsidiaries in tax and secrecy havens, such as the British Virgin Islands. This is an example of how the secrecy afforded to companies in tax havens has been used to siphon off billions of dollars from some of the poorest countries in the world.
Global Witness has been reporting extensively on Gertler’s Congo deals since late 2011, including by analysing his partnerships with Glencore and the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation. Five deals involving Gertler are estimated to have lost the Congolese state at least $1.4 billion dollars, almost twice the country’s health and education spending.
Publicly disclosing the real owners of companies would help ensure that we know who benefits from natural resource deals. It should no longer be acceptable that anonymous company ownership allows a few secretive companies and individuals to benefit at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Och-Ziff said in March that it is under investigation by US authorities for its African investments; this investigation should help shed new light on these deals and must have the full cooperation of tax havens.