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Congo ombudsman says millions lost at state mining firm

Congo is Africa's top producer of copper and the world's leading miner of cobalt   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo's Inspectorate General of Finance (IGF), in a report revealed on Saturday, points to numerous irregularities in the management of the state-owned mining company Gécamines, which it says has caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The anti-corruption agency launched an audit of the company several months ago for the period 2010-2020 and completed its report on 31 May, said the weekly Jeune Afrique, which first published the findings.

Gécamines (Générale des carrières et des mines) was headed during this period by Albert Yuma, a close associate of former President Joseph Kabila, who was ousted last December as head of the company by the government of Félix Tshisekedi.

A "summary" of this "IGF report on the management of Gécamines", of which AFP obtained a copy, lists the many problems found: "irregularities" in "the transfer of mining assets through partnership contracts", "lack of transparency in the signing of contracts", "prejudices in the transfer of rights", "failure to pay taxes due to the Treasury", "presumption of embezzlement of public funds", "selling off of the real estate of the company", etc.

In particular, the IGF says it has not been able to trace more than $400 million out of a total of some $600 million in tax advances and loans to the state.

It also points to "undue benefits" paid to executives and the "payment of exorbitant snacks". "During the period under review, Gécamines generated 2 billion US dollars in own resources," IGF boss Jules Alingete told AFP. However, he said, "1.5 billion was used to pay management bonuses and snacks".

The IGF also claims that from 2012 to 2020, "Gécamines' partners have achieved a global turnover estimated at 35 billion dollars", while the company "has only received 564 million dollars in royalties from these partnerships, or 1.6%".

The financial watchdog is also looking into the 'minerals for infrastructure' deal signed with China in 2008.

The IGF believes that there has been "no serious monitoring of the investments made by the Chinese partners and the income generated by the Sicomines joint venture".

In May 2021, Félix Tshisekedi announced his intention to renegotiate the mining contracts, particularly those concluded with China by Joseph Kabila. 

The DRC's subsoil is rich in minerals, and the country is the world's largest producer of cobalt and Africa's largest producer of copper.

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