Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary turns to officials accused of running departments marred by allegations of embezzlement and corruption
The presidential candidate nominated by the incumbent in Democratic Republic of Congo for elections next month has assembled a campaign finance team containing officials who have overseen agencies, departments or projects in which significant public funds have disappeared over the last decade, said Global Witness and the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) today.
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, nominated by current President Joseph Kabila for elections due to take place on 23 December 2018, signed off on a series of campaign teams on 5 November. As well as those suspected of links to the diversion of public funds, some of those named are also subject to international sanctions.
Shadary himself was sanctioned by the European Union in May 2017; those sanctions were set to be renewed last month. The EU accuses him of responsibility for the arrests of activists and members of the opposition, as well as the disproportionate use of force. Members of his ‘finance and logistics’ team include Moïse Ekanga Lushyma and Albert Yuma, two officials who have both run state agencies with a dubious track record of resource management.
“When a presidential candidate, who is subject to European sanctions, aligns himself with people who have run key institutions in a regime already accused of widespread corruption, then there is a huge risk that the line between public money and private political interests will become blurred during this election campaign”, said Pete Jones at Global Witness. “We have called for investigations into these individuals and the institutions they run, but instead Shadary seems to be rewarding them with positions of power”.
Ekanga is the head of the Office for Coordination and Monitoring of the Sino-Congolese Program (BCPSC), which manages the main business dealings between DRC and China. The Carter Center discovered that, between 2008 and 2014, hundreds of millions of dollars of Chinese loans, overseen by the BCPSC while under Ekanga’s stewardship, were not spent on infrastructure projects as intended. The BCPSC failed to account for the use of some $685 million in such loans.
PPLAAF also revealed that Ekanga spearheaded negotiations with a port operator in which the talks were, according to PPLAAF, marred by serious allegations of embezzlement. The port contract was alleged to create a corporate structure allowing for the personal gain of politically exposed individuals, including Kabila. According to Reuters, Ekanga also helped negotiate a contract for the provision of passports that would see revenues diverted into an opaque company from which a close relative of the President stands to benefit personally.
Yuma, meanwhile, is another key figure in the Kabila regime. He has been Chairman of DRC’s state-owned mining company Gécamines since 2010. Global Witness and the Carter Center have both reported on the disappearance of hundred of millions of dollars of public revenues which went into Gécamines during Yuma’s tenure as Chairman. Gécamines, while Yuma was Chairman, sold mining concessions to Dan Gertler, a notorious Israeli businessman. Having acquired key DRC mining assets and revenue streams from or via Gécamines, Gertler was eventually sanctioned under the US Global Magnitsky Act in December 2017 by the US President Trump for corruption in DRC mining deals.
Yuma was a member and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Entreprise Générale d’Alimentation (EGAL) – a food producing and importing company. According to the Lumumba Papers released by PPLAAF, EGAL is said to have received an unexplained US$43 million loan from the Central Bank of the Congo that was then allegedly transferred to companies abroad. EGAL's boats have been used to transport wild animals purchased in Namibia on behalf of Ferme Espoir, a farm belonging to Kabila.
“It’s concerning that we see the same names coming up in these reports again and again,” said Henri Thulliez at PPLAAF. “Candidate Shadary has decided to turn a blind eye to the serious allegations of mismanagement of public funds by those he has recruited to help get him elected”.
Ekanga told Bloomberg he was “surprised” by figures indicating missing money under his management, while Yuma has refuted direct allegations of corruption in the past. Neither man has provided detailed responses to the allegations against them in various reports.
Global Witness and PPLAAF contend that both Ekanga and Yuma must bear responsibility for the reported unexplained diversion of public funds from state institutions under their watch, and while those issues remain unresolved they are inappropriate persons to manage campaign finances. Neither Global Witness nor PPLAAF suggests that there is any evidence of personal involvement in wrongdoing by Ekanga or Yuma.
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