Congo hold-up : Joseph Kabila accused of embezzling $138 million in DRC

The former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, and his family are accused by a vast investigation by international media and NGOs released Friday of having embezzled at least $ 138 million from the coffers of the state in 5 years.

An investigation by international media and NGOs said on Friday (November 19th) that the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila and his family had “siphoned off” in five years at least $ 138 million from the coffers of the state with the complicity of a bank.

This investigation, entitled “Congo hold-up“, is based on 3.5 million confidential bank documents, obtained by the French online investigative media Mediapart and the NGO Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF), says Mediapart.

These data were analyzed for six months by 19 international media and five NGOs, coordinated by the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network, adds the media which promises to detail in the coming days the functioning of these diversions carried out between 2013 and 2018.

In a press release, Joseph Kabila’s communications service described the findings of this investigation as “false accusations” and “delaying tactics”, deploring an “unjustified relentlessness of certain powers hidden behind these media”.

Complicity of the BGFI bank

The $ 138 million that this investigation claims to have traced were diverted “with the complicity of the bank BGFI DRC” (subsidiary in the DRC of the banking group BGFIBank based in Gabon), in which relatives of Joseph Kabila had interests and responsibilities, “in particular through a shell company installed in a garage”.

According to the investigation, this company served as a “vehicle for the corruption of the regime” and to “levy a kind of ‘Kabila tax’ from several Congolese institutions and public companies”: the Central Bank, the mining company Gecamines, the National Assembly, the electoral commission, the transport and ports company, the road maintenance fund…

Asked in Kinshasa by AFP, the bank had not yet reacted late Friday afternoon.

“One of the most shocking examples concerns the money from the roads, which the DRC sorely lacks,” says Mediapart, which parallels the “indecent fortune” that the Kabila family would have accumulated and the state of the DRC which, “despite its immense mineral resources (…) is the 6th poorest country in the world.”

Doctor PhD Joseph Kabila Kabange,former president of DRC

“More than 70% of Congolese survive on less than two dollars a day,” the article adds, “half of the population does not have access to drinking water and 90% does not have electricity.”

The authors of the investigation add that they tried to obtain answers from the people implicated in this alleged state “hold-up” but, they say, “most did not respond”.

Joseph Kabila came to power at the age of 29 in January 2001, after the assassination of his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila who overthrew former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. He was president until January 2019, when the current head of state Felix Tshisekedi succeeded him.

source:France 24 with AFP

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