Democratic Republic of Congo's ex-premier in dock over embezzlement charges

Augustin Matata Ponyo faces court for misappropriating $205M in agro-industrial project

James Tasamba   | 25.10.2021
Democratic Republic of Congo's ex-premier in dock over embezzlement charges

KIGALI, Rwanda

The trial of the former prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo over alleged embezzlement of funds meant for an agro-industrial project opened Monday at the country’s Constitutional Court.

Augustin Matata Ponyo, who served as prime minister under former President Joseph Kabila, is implicated in a case involving misappropriation of $205 million funds for Bukangalonzo Agro-Industrial Park, located 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of the capital Kinshasa.

The trial follows the General Inspectorate of Finance’s (IGF) report published in 2020, indicating $205 million was misappropriated out of $285 million.

Accused of sanctioning the payment of more than $110 million to fictitious creditors, Matata Ponyo was cited as the “intellectual author” of the crime.

He appeared along with Patrice Kitebi, then-deputy minister of finance, and the manager of the South African company AFRICOM, which was carrying out the work.

Assisted by his lawyer, Matata Ponyo denied the allegations.

The prosecution indicated that by creating the pilot park, he “distorted everything from the start and flouted the law on procurement, opting for the private contract procedure.”

“Most of the expenses were made under emergency procedure. The amounts disbursed were sent to South Africa on behalf of the chosen AFRICOM without compliance with the law in the matter,” said the prosecution.

Matata Ponyo served as finance minister and then prime minister in the government of Joseph Kabila from 2010 until 2016. The case was postponed until Nov. 8.

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