ON THE TRAIL OF TEGETA’S OFFSHORE SHAREHOLDER
On the fifth floor of Jafza 15, everything is white, carpeted and anonymous. Occasionally, a closed office door announces a company registered in the British Virgin Islands – a notorious tax and secrecy haven in the Caribbean.
The address 15117 appears to be a PO box, and a sign on the door of office 15514 shows it belongs to Giovenzana International. The woman who opens the door says that she has never heard of Fidelity Enterprises.
On Friday, the South African government announced that it had committed itself to ending these kinds of opaque corporate structures in the country, citing risks that they could be used to hide illicit finance, money laundering and corruption.
As part of its third National Action Plan, the government has committed to setting up a public register, disclosing the real owners behind all companies registered in South Africa.
“This is an encouraging announcement, especially because of the commitment to a public register, rather than a register that is only accessible to the authorities,” said Denise Dube Mubaiwa of Economic Justice Network.
“Public registers give investigators, journalists, civil society and the general public the tools necessary to peel back the layers of secrecy that anonymous companies create.”
Alvin Mosioma of Tax Justice Network-Africa added: “South Africa, [in] leading the way, will provide important cover for other African governments to take the same step.”