Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Directors of firm that owns majority stake in Raila plant named in Panama papers

molassesThe company, which bought a controlling stake in Cord leader Raila Odinga’s molasses plant in Kisumu, registered several shell companies with the Panamanian law firm now at the centre of global attention following the leak of millions of its documents.

Energem Resources Inc, which entered Kenya in 2004 after buying a 55 per cent stake in Mr Odinga’s Spectre International, is also linked to dubious companies involved in diamond mining in West and southern Africa and in a private security firm — once accused of mercenary activities.

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While Mr Odinga does not feature in the papers, Energem Resources’ directors — Mr Brian Menell, Mr Jimmy Kanakakis (aka Demetrios Panagiotis Kanakakis) and Mr Tony Teixeira are named as the directors of another company Koidu Limited registered in the British Virgin Islands by the Panama fiduciary firm, Mossack Fonseca.

Koidu is, in turn, linked to an Israeli billionaire, Mr Beny Steinmetz, said to be South Africa’s De Beers’s most prolific diamond buyer and a supplier to the luxury jewellery brand Tiffany & Co.


Mr Steinmetz, a US resident, has been fighting corruption claims in Guinea, where the government of President Alpha Conde said he secured rights to the multimillion-dollar Simandou iron-ore mines by bribing the wife of a former leader. Mr Steinmetz denied the claims but he lost the mine.

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He is also facing FBI investigations in the US over the Simandou scandal and his BSGR firm is described in the federal criminal investigations court papers, filed in 2014 in New York’s Southern District Court as, “corrupt”.

Further, the firm is facing similar investigations in France, Guinea, Switzerland, UK and Guernsey.

Last month, Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate said they were looking for Mr Steinmetz in a case involving  illegal restitution of a forest near Bucharest.

They want to put him in preventive arrest alongside three other businessmen.

Featuring prominently in the Panama Papers is Koidu Limited CEO Jan Joubert, who, in 2013 toldFinancial Times that over the years he has “fought in some of Africa’s nastiest wars…trained presidential bodyguards to scamper assassination attempts and run a diamond mine in the face of a rebel threat.”

Mr Jourbert once worked with Executive Outcomes, a group of former soldiers hired by governments to protect key installations, and which was an affiliate of Branch Energy, according to the Panama Papers.

In the layering to hide its identity, Branch Energy changed its name to Energem Resources which in turn held shares in Koidu Holdings a company belonging to Octea Limited of Mr Steinmetz’s BSGR Resources.

Octea, in turn, operated with multiple variations, all incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

These Octea companies are registered under another shell company, Invicta Advisory SA, and whose beneficial owner is listed as Benjamin Steinmetz.

These include Octea Diamonds, Octea Financial Advisors, Octea Limited, Octea Technical Services, Octea Mining, Koidu Limited, V.S. Holdings, Nysco management and Resources Advisory.

It is via Koidu Holdings that Energem Resources, which had bought the Kisumu shares, owned some mining rights in West Africa with Steinmetz’s BSG Resources Limited, Magma Diamond, and Energem Mining.

Koidu’s rocks average $330 a carat, which is about 50 per cent more than De Beers’s Jwaneng mine in Botswana.

Minutes show Magma Diamond was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and jointly owned BSGR, Energem’s Brian Menell, Bateman Project Holdings Limited and the Steinmetz Diamond Group.

In turn, BSGR is owned by several foundations based in Liechtenstein and Switzerland such as Nysco and Balda – a complex layering.

It was the Menell family that sold a stake in the Venetia mine to De Beers a decade ago and now has mining interests across Africa as head of the private Kemet group.

Energem operated more than 43 different companies registered in different jurisdictions.

Besides owning the controlling stake in the Kisumu molasses plant, it also owned 100 per cent another Kenyan company, Petroplus Kenya Ltd.

For the first, the Panama data has revealed how this international network of miners bought a stake in Kenya.

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