Inside DRC

Panama papers catch Kabila family with Vodacom stake


Jaynet Kabila, the twin sister of the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a legislator, has an indirect stake in Vodacom Group’s operations in the country, documents show, shedding light on the wealth the opposition says has been accumulated by the first family.

Kabila owns half of Keratsu Holding, a company with a 9.6 percent indirect stake in Vodacom Congo, according to documents dated December 2011 and obtained by Bloomberg from the companies registry of the South Pacific state of Niue.

Two people with knowledge of Vodacom Congo confirmed her shareholding, declining to be identified because her involvement is not public knowledge.

Kabila’s indirect stake in the DRC’s largest cellphone operator provides a clue of the network of economic interests that opposition politicians say the presidential family has accumulated since her father seized power in 1997.

“Members of Kabila’s family have accumulated huge wealth, including stakes in companies in offshore tax havens,” opposition leader and legislator Martin Fayulu said.

“We need an urgent inquiry and we need to demand the repatriation of these monies.”

Jaynet Kabila was not available for comment. Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the issue was a private matter unrelated to the government, when asked for comment.

Steve Shepperson-Smith, a spokesman for Vodafone, which owns 65 percent of Vodacom Group, was not available for comment. Vodacom Congo chief executive Murielle Lorilloux said the company would analyse the information at a group level before responding.

“We need to study the content of the Panama Papers and are giving this our full attention,” said Byron Kennedy, a spokesman for Vodacom.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Sunday published two documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, identifying Kabila as a director of Keratsu. One is a copy of e-mails from 2001 and the other is an undated e-mail text file that appears to be written after 2013.

“Jaynet Kabila’s stake in Vodacom offers a rare glimpse into what we assume is a large and diverse array of assets owned by the president’s family,” said Jason Stearns, a senior fellow at New York University’s Centre on International Co-operation peace and security think-tank. Stearns is the author of a book on Congo titled Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The collapse of the Congo and the great war of Africa.

The ICIJ said it had been leaked 11.5 million records outlining the creation of more than 200 000 offshore shell firms related to Mossack Fonseca. The cache includes offshore firms linked to 12 current and former world leaders, as well as hidden financial dealings by 128 more politicians and officials, according to the ICIJ.


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