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DRC: US sanctions against the former head of the Institute for the Protection of Nature

This photograph taken on October 24, 2021 shows the mangrove forest at the mouth of the Congo River in the extreme southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. T   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The former director-general of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), Cosma Wilungula, and two other former officials of this public institute in the DRC have been placed on the US sanctions list, according to a press release published on Wednesday.

Cosma Wilungula and two of his associates, Léonard Muamba and Augustin Ngumbi, are banned from entering the United States "due to their involvement in significant acts of corruption", said the statement from State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

"As officials responsible for wildlife protection, they abused their official positions by engaging in the trafficking of chimpanzees, gorillas, okapis, and other protected wildlife in the DRC," it detailed.

According to the State Department, the animals were trafficked to "the People's Republic of China in exchange for bribes".

After sixteen years at the head of ICCN, the public body responsible for managing national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cosma Wilungula was suspended from his post by Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba for "mismanagement" in August 2021.

The State Department affirmed that these sanctions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to disrupting the wildlife trade and promoting accountability among officials and criminals.

In addition, US authorities have extended this entry ban to Ganda’s wife, Rose Nsele Ngokali, and Willungula’s wife, Esther Mwanga Willungula.

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