Congo-Kinshasa: Bank Scandal in DR Congo

President Joseph Kabila.

New Revelations by The Sentry on BGFIBank DRC, Hezbollah Financier Links

Newly uncovered evidence published today by The Sentry reveals that BGFIBank DRC, a Congolese bank run and partly owned by members of President Joseph Kabila's family, maintained accounts up to at least 2016 for companies with ties to terrorists.

The Sentry's investigative alert, "Bank Scandal in Congo," details how the bank maintained those accounts for Congo Futur, a company under U.S. sanctions, despite repeated warnings from employees, other banks, and the U.S. government.

Joshua White, Director of Policy and Analysis at The Sentry, said: "The new information stemming from this investigation should raise further red flags for banks and regulators charged with implementing international anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing standards. This case perfectly exemplifies the ties between corruption, terrorist financing, and compliance risk in one of the world's most volatile regions."

John Prendergast, Co-founder of The Sentry and Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: "Banks in Congo that have been infiltrated by corruption need to clean up their act to counteract pervasive money laundering and illicit financing. The findings from this investigation call into question the credibility that the banks and businesses identified in this investigation have to justify their access to the international financial system. This case should send chills down the spines of correspondent banks wanting to continue to do business with banks controlled by the Kabilas in Congo."

Documents uncovered by The Sentry show that BGFIBank DRC maintained accounts of significant value in 2016 for companies owned or controlled by Congo Futur, a company placed under sanctions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for being owned or controlled by financiers of Hezbollah.

This new investigative alert reinforces evidence of wrongdoing outlined in The Sentry's previous report on Congo published in October last year: "The Terrorists' Treasury."

Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "The U.S. sanctions implications for working with Hezbollah financiers well after they were blacklisted couldn't be more clear. This crosses counter-terrorism lines. The Treasury Department should also urgently investigate and use its authorities to sanction and undertake measures pursuant to the Patriot Act against those responsible for this heinous activity, now that ample evidence has come to light. The U.S. government, particularly the Office of Foreign Assets Control and FinCEN, should take a deeper look at the case here."

The Sentry reviewed and analyzed the documents in partnership with the Plateforme de Protection des Lanceurs d'Alerte en Afrique, an NGO focused on protecting African whistleblowers. Account ledgers from BGFIBank DRC reviewed by The Sentry and PPLAAF indicate that, in 2016, the bank maintained a total of 15 accounts for five reported subsidiaries of Congo Futur.

Documents obtained by The Sentry indicate that the following companies maintained accounts at BGFIBank DRC in 2016:

Atlantic Trading Company (ATCOM), described in a 2013 independent audit report commissioned by the Congolese government as a subsidiary of Congo Futur, held two accounts at BGFIBank DRC.

Cotrefor, a reported subsidiary of Congo Futur, maintained three accounts at BGFIBank DRC.

Kin Trading, a company described in correspondence between BGFIBank DRC employees and confirmed by OFAC as a Congo Futur subsidiary, held two accounts at the bank.

Pacific Trading, a company described in Congolese government documents as a subsidiary of Congo Futur, held two accounts at BGFIBank DRC.

Glory Group, a company described by a Congolese government research center and in several Congolese media reports as a successor entity of Congo Futur, held six accounts at BGFIBank DRC.

The report calls for urgent action to investigate these banking relationships and to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system.

For details, read the full report: https://eno.ug/2HMqxzq

Click here for the Alert in French | En français

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, +1 310-717-0606, gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE SENTRY

The Sentry is composed of best-in-class financial forensic investigators, policy analysts, and regional experts who follow the dirty money and build investigative cases focusing on the corrupt transnational networks most responsible for Africa's deadliest conflicts. By creating a significant financial cost to these kleptocrats through network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, and other tools, The Sentry aims to disrupt the profit incentives for mass atrocities and oppression, and creates new leverage in support of peace efforts and African frontline human rights defenders. The Sentry's partner, the Enough Project, undertakes high-level advocacy with policy-makers around the world as well as wide-reaching education campaigns by mobilizing students, faith-based groups, celebrities, and others. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an initiative of Not On Our Watch (NOOW) and the Enough Project. The Sentry currently focuses its work in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.

In less than two years, The Sentry has created hard-hitting reports and converted extensive research into a large volume of dossiers on individuals and entities connected to grand corruption, violence, or serious human rights abuses. The investigative team has turned those dossiers over to government regulatory and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world, as well as to compliance officers at the world's largest banks.

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