Leaked Documents Shows Kabila Family and Associates Looted DRC Funds | Crime News

The biggest financial document leak from Africa shows how a private bank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was used to funnel at least $ 138 million in public funds to the family and associates of former President Joseph Kabila.

The Africa Whistleblower Protection Platform, a Paris-based anti-corruption group known as Pplaaf, and France’s Mediapart have obtained more than 3.5 million documents spanning nearly a decade of transactions in the within the BGFIBank SA Group. A consortium of non-governmental organizations and the media coordinated by the European Investigative Collaborations network spent more than six months analyzing the information.

The leak, dubbed Congo Hold-up, lists the way in which public funds passed through the BGFI, to companies belonging to Kabila’s parents and closest allies. The documents also show how the Chinese owners of some of Congo’s most prized copper and cobalt mines have used the bank to transfer millions of dollars to individuals and businesses directly linked to Kabila’s family.

“Congo Hold-up is the biggest sensitive data leak in African history,” said Pplaaf director Henri Thulliez. “It details the tricks used by the bank and its clients to cover up endemic corruption, and the loopholes in the international banking system that allow such transactions. Bank transactions, e-mails, and business records form a perfect manual on how a kleptocracy works.

The consortium of 19 media organizations, including Bloomberg News, and five non-governmental organizations across four continents will continue to publish articles based on their findings in the coming weeks.

BGFI has not commented on the revelations. The bank’s headquarters and the Congolese subsidiary have not responded to emails, texts and phone calls in the past five weeks.

The Gabon-based BGFI, whose full name is Banque Gabonaise et Française Internationale, has branches in 10 African countries and in France. He opened a unit in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, in 2010, handing over to Kabila’s sister, Gloria Mteyu, a 40% stake in the subsidiary. The then president’s brother, Selemani Francis Mtwale, was appointed to lead the new lender.

Neither Mteyu nor Selemani – who are no longer involved in BGFI – have commented on the consortium. Kabila’s spokesperson did not respond to questions sent via text message, nor did he respond to multiple phone calls to follow up.

The documents show that after the president’s brother was forced to leave the Congolese unit in 2018, BGFI executives attempted to freeze the accounts of a company linked to their ex-boss. Yet former Selemani lawmakers canceled them, allowing large cash withdrawals as the Kabila family withdrew money from the bank, emails say.

Leaked documents show Congo’s central bank sent $ 94.5 million to Kabila-related entities, while tens of millions of dollars arrived from other public institutions, including $ 20 million from the mining company. national Gécamines, Mediapart reported on Friday. Neither Deogratias Mutombo, the governor of the central bank from 2013 until the beginning of this year, nor Gécamines responded to the questions sent by the consortium.

The same companies also received an additional $ 72 million from unknown sources that passed through BGFI’s account at the central bank, records show.

The Congo is by far the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s largest producer of copper, two metals essential to the global electric vehicle revolution.

Despite Congo’s immense mineral wealth, during Kabila’s presidency annual government spending never exceeded $ 5 billion – a meager budget for a country the size of Western Europe with a population of around 100 millions of inhabitants. In 2018, Kabila’s last year in power, his administration spent less than $ 230 million on health care, according to data released by the Budget Ministry.

Congo’s Inspector General of Finance, Jules Alingete Key, the country’s top anti-corruption official, described BGFI as a “mafia bank” in an interview with the consortium.

As a former Belgian colony and independent country, the Congo has a long history of its rulers extracting the nation’s wealth for their personal benefit. The role BGFI and Selemani played in this story has been gradually revealed since 2016, when a former Kinshasa branch compliance officer disclosed a much smaller cache of documents from the bank.

As allegations mounted, BGFI responded by restructuring its branch in Congo. In 2018, the Gabonese headquarters dismissed Selemani from his post as chief executive and reclaimed Mteyu’s shares – a stake it never paid, according to the documents.

Under pressure from the international community, Kabila reluctantly resigned his post as president in early 2019 after nearly two decades in power. The current head of state, Félix Tshisekedi, has continued to reduce Kabila’s political influence by purging the faithful of his predecessor from the Congolese government. Kabila has never been accused of wrongdoing by any government authority.

In the twilight of Kabila’s presidency, BGFI and Selemani feared being sanctioned by the US government, the leaked documents show. Congo depends on the US dollar for most transactions, so being cut off from the US financial system could have forced the bank to close.

The main auditor of the Congolese unit of BGFI completed an internal investigation in mid-2018 which identified nearly 30 clients linked to the directors and senior executives of the bank, as well as to the Kabila family. The report, which revealed endemic undeclared conflicts of interest, classified the bank’s governance as “unacceptable” and “very high risk”. He suggested that some transactions were fraudulent.

As Selemani’s hold over the Kinshasa branch crumbled, the presidential clan panicked and for eight months in 2018 emptied their BGFI accounts of around $ 30 million still held at the bank. The documents show that in six years, more than $ 80 million in cash was withdrawn from accounts held at BGFI by the Selemani-controlled group of companies – with a single individual withdrawing more than $ 50 million.

At one point, as the exodus was in full swing, an official feared that due to “massive withdrawals” BGFI Congo would run out of dollars, according to a presentation prepared for the bank’s audit committee.

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