UK freezes R9.5bn of militia leaders’ assets
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.