Abidjan – Ivory Coast Prime Minister Patrick Achi on Monday denied any wrongdoing after he was named in the “Pandora Papers” media investigation exposing world leaders’ use of tax havens.
The investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) named Achi as one of three dozen current and former world leaders featured in roughly 11.9 million documents leaked from financial services companies across the world.
The consortium writes that in the late 1990s Achi, then an adviser to Ivory Coast’s energy minister, became the owner of Bahamas-based company Allstar Consultancy Services Ltd, owning shares through a trust which, it is alleged, obscured his ownership.
In 2006, management of the firm was transferred to the Bahamas office of law firm Alcogal, which became the consultancy’s agent, the ICIJ said.
Achi’s office released a statement which lamented the “malicious use seemingly being made of this information”.
The statement added that Achi “will not allow his name to be linked with illicit activities and thereby sullied.”
It said that the 1998 registration of a firm “abroad” – appearing to refer to Allstar – had proceeded entirely legitimately, with due respect for “all legal formalities”.
In addition, the statement noted, at the time, “Patrick Achi had no political engagements nor any public, institutional or cabinet function.”
As “the foreign registered company never engaged in any activity”, Achi left in 2006, the statement added, insisting “this firm never supported in any respect tax evasion, nor the least illicit financial transaction nor the least syphoning off of public funds, nor any illegal activity whatsoever.
“To suggest the contrary is a serious attack on the truth as well as on the civic and professional honour of Patrick Achi.”
Although holding assets offshore or using shell companies is not illegal in most countries, the revelations have proved embarrassing for the world leaders named in the leaks.
The Pandora Papers documents have been globally released by ICIJ media partners including The Washington Post, Le Monde, the BBC and The Guardian which published them on Sunday.
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