By John Chimunhu|
The late Zimbabwean tobacco tycoon Roger Boka, a close ally of president Robert Mugabe, has been named among thousands of Africans who looted billions of dollars from the continent and stashed it in Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes back home.
A list published Monday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) shows that Boka held a secret account with the UK-based HSBC’s discredited Swiss subsidiary, HSBC Private Banking (Suisse).
Sources at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe confirmed that Boka’s HSBC account was not known by the apex bank. There was no record of regulatory approval being granted by the RBZ and no tax on interest from the account was paid in Zimbabwe as required by law, the sources said.
ICIJ did not state how much Boka held in the secret HSBC account but said such “illicit outflows” were responsible for Africa’s loss of an estimated $50 billion annually. The report blamed Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws for the existence of such undeclared accounts, which allowed thousands of Africans and multinationals to dodge taxes in the countries they operated .
“The files for Africa include former and current politicians from Kenya, Tunisia, the DRC, Senegal and Algeria,” said the ICIJ report. “The profiles also include…Zimbabwe’s former cigarette mogul, Roger Boka.”
Boka was founder of the United Merchant Bank, which collapsed, and also later set up the Boka tobacco auction floors in Harare.
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