By Shinovene Immanuel | 25 July 2016
TWO Namibian arms dealers are among the people named as clients of Mossack Fonseca, a shamed Panama law firm which has helped the rich hide money in secretive countries and territories called tax havens.
Businessmen Walter Hailwax and Trevor Wilmans were named in the latest leak of what is known as the Panama Papers. Hailwax was a director of the government’s military company.
The two are among people who received commissions from arm deals in a South African jet fighter scandal, where a British arms manufacturer was accused of paying bribes to a handful of business people.
Mossack Fonseca is the law firm which acted as an agent of two companies linked to the two Namibians. It is a discredited law firm which has been exposed as aiding the super-rich, money launderers and other suspected criminals to hide their money and possibly evade tax through a secretive web of shell companies.
Information from internal Mossack Fonseca data was obtained by the German newspaper SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung, and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with The Namibian’s investigative unit and over 100 media partners around the world.
So far, Mossack Fonseca’s internal files have exposed a trail of companies tied to over 20 Namibian addresses and a handful of companies. The two arms dealers join the list of Namibians with links to the offshore underworld such as the mafia, a lawyer connected to the mafia, and a receptionist, who was used as a front for multimillion-dollar business and related transactions.
Businessman Hailwax is a 59-year-old Namibian who lives in Ludwigsdorf, an upper-class suburb of Windhoek. At one point, he also served as the Belgian honorary consul to Namibia.
In the Panama Papers’ leak, the Windhoek-born Hailwax is named as having been a director of offshore company Kayswell Services since August 1998, making him one of the longest-serving clients of Mossack Fonseca.
Kayswell Services is a British Virgin Islands firm registered in October 1994.
The Mail and Guardian of South Africa reported in January 2008 that British arms manufacturer,
BAE Systems, paid Â£37 million to Kayswell Services in commissions for its role in the South African arms deal. That was part of a deal that saw BAE sell jet fighters worth Â£1,6 billion to the South African government in 1999.
That Mail and Guardian report said Hailwax was paid Â£2,5 million. Around 2007, the media and financial authorities from Britain and South Africa started reporting on the BAE deal.
That led to the Financial Investigation Agency from the British Virgin Islands writing a letter to Mossack Fonseca in 2007 that Hailwax’s company Kayswell was being investigated for money laundering and other financial offences.
After that letter, Mossack Fonseca started an internal investigation, and warned its officials that âthe clientâ (Kayswell) is in no way to be âtipped offâ that it is being investigated.
âUpon searching our files, we noticed that we do not have an updated register of members and directors on our file. Please send us same in order to update our records,â one Mossack Fonseca official said.
Another Mossack Fonseca official from the compliance department replied through email, saying: âI don’t know this companyâ.
Mossack Fonseca decided to cut ties with Kayswell in April 2009 as their agent, ending their 15-year relationship. This appeared to be too little too late since most of the questionable transactions, such as the money from arm deals, were already paid just after 1999.
The severing of ties by Mossack Fonseca is another sign that they found something fishy during their due diligence process.
In 2014, Kayswell pleaded with Mossack Fonseca to take them back as their agent, but the Panama company rejected their advances. It is not clear whether Mossack Fonseca agreed to be their agent again after 2014 since the leaked email communications between the two ended in 2014.
Hailwax said in his due diligence report submitted to Mossack Fonseca that he earns his money from property and consultancy work.
It is also in that report that Hailwax said that he is an aviation consultant, and works for Aircraft Consultancy Services (ACS), a company co-owned by Zimbabwean arms dealer John Bredenkamp, a man who made his fortune trading in tobacco and arms with pariah states such as Zimbabwe, Iraq and apartheid South Africa.
ACS is the same company accused by the United Nations of selling equipment for armed forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, helping fuel that country’s brutal civil war.
Bredenkamp has in the past, through the media, denied any involvement in the South African arms sale. He also told Mossack Fonseca officials through his representatives that he was exonerated by a UN panel set up to investigate the plundering of the mineral resources in the DRC, and was approved by the UN as an investor in the DRC.
Bredenkamp was reported by the UN for his alleged involvement in sending profits from mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. Bredenkamp denied this, but admitted to being a broker in Zimbabwe, saying he tried âto broker a settlement between the MDC and Zanu PF in 2002, which failed (we can show you our files evidencing this), and tried to broker an agreement between the Zimbabwean government and the white farmers in 2000â.
Meanwhile, Hailwax served on the board of the military vehicle manufacturer owned by the Namibian Defence Force called Windhoeker Maschinenfabrik, a business wing of the state-owned secretive August 26 company that has failed to publicly produce annual reports since it was founded over a decade ago.
It is not clear whether the Namibian military’s own firm has dealt with controversial firms such as ACS or Kayswell.
Hailwax also owns other businesses. According to information from the British government’s companies’ registrar, Hailwax is a director of four companies, namely Futec Consultants Limited and Global Aviation Consultants Limited, firms which have now been dissolved.
The other two companies are Capricorn Aviation Consultancy Limited and Global Aviation Consultants Limited, which are still active. In Namibia, Hailwax owns Taco Technology, a company which claims to provide software solutions to the Namibian government.
Another Namibian named as an owner of Kayswell is Hailwax’s business partner Wilmans, who lives in South Africa’s Stellenbosch area, in the Western Cape. His Namibian address is also listed as Ludwigsdorf.
Born at the diamond town of Oranjemund, south of Namibia, the 61-year-old has served as a director of Keyswell since 1994. According to the M&G news report in 2008, Wilmans was paid Â£812 016 in commission from the controversial South African arms deal.
His due diligence report submitted to Mossack Fonseca states that he is an aviation consultant, and that he gets his personal wealth from âdividends and commissionsâ. He was a director of Companies Aircraft Services, leaked documents show.
Wilmans is also a director in a company in which his comrade Hailwax has an interest, Capricorn Aviation.
Mossack Fonseca has been accused of aiding questionable people to channel their ill-gotten money through offshore companies. The Panama company, however, denied in a statement issued on its website that they knowingly dealt with companies with links to states under sanctions, like Zimbabwe, where Bredenkamp’s partner had influence.
âWe routinely resign from client engagements when ongoing due diligence and/or updates to sanctions’ lists reveal that a party to a company for which we provide services has been either convicted or listed by a sanctioning body,â the company said.
Efforts to get comment from Hailwax and Wilmans were not successful with their phones not answered while their email addresses do not exist any more.
A man who answered Hailwax’s phone claimed not to hear the reporter via his mobile phone. âWho is this? I cannot hear you,â he said before hanging up. He did not pick up several calls made afterwards nor did he respond to SMSes sent to him. Our records show that 16 SMSes that we sent to him were delivered to his phone.
* This article was produced by The Namibian’s investigative unit, with support from the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).