UK freezes R9.5bn of mili­tia lead­ers’ as­sets

The New Age (Free State) - - INSIDE - DAKAR

THE Bri­tish gov­ern­ment said it has frozen £580m (R9.5bn) in as­sets held by sev­eral dozen mili­tia lead­ers, army of­fi­cers and pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions with ties to Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo.

The freezes were man­dated by the Euro­pean Union as part of a sanc­tions regime im­posed by the UN. They rep­re­sent a hefty sum in Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, which has an an­nual gross do­mes­tic prod­uct of about $30bn and a bud­get of $5bn.

The fig­ure was pub­lished on the UK par­lia­ment web­site on Mon­day by eco­nomic sec­re­tary John Glen in re­sponse to an MP’s ques­tion about sanc­tions im­posed on Congo.

His an­swer gave the to­tal sum of seized as­sets but no details of the as­sets them­selves. Still, it pro­vided a rare win­dow into the scale of il­licit fi­nan­cial ac­tiv­ity in Congo that in­ter­na­tional pow­ers have tar­geted as they try to ratchet up pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila to step down from power.

Lead­ers of Congo’s dozens of mili­tia groups, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and mili- tary of­fi­cers have long en­riched them­selves by traf­fick­ing min­er­als, im­pos­ing il­le­gal taxes and steal­ing pub­lic funds, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment and var­i­ous ex­perts. The as­set freezes ap­ply to in­di­vid­u­als and groups, in­clud­ing war­lords con­victed by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court and two now-de­funct Con­golese air­line com­pa­nies. – Reuters

TOUGH SANC­TIONS: Bri­tish eco­nomics sec­re­tary John Glen.

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