Washington, DC — Today (March 21, 2019), the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three senior Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officials.
OFAC designated three senior Congolese election commission (CENI) officials: Corneille Yobeluo Nangaa, CENI President; Norbert Basengezi Katintima, CENI Vice-President; and Katintima’s son, Marcellin Basengezi Mukolo, a high-level CENI advisor. This action follows the outcome of the December 2018 elections that is widely seen as undemocratic, and the result of an allegedly corrupt deal made behind the scenes. The sanctions also come amidst new reports of corruption in the Senate elections in the DRC, in which parliamentarians were allegedly paid bribes to vote for certain senators.
Sarah Gardiner, Investigative Analyst at The Sentry, said: "The U.S. Department of Treasury’s announcement of sanctions toward three electoral commission officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important step in ensuring accountability for electoral fraud during Congo's December 2018 presidential election. Today’s designations are also the first to be taken under the U.S. Congo sanctions program since February 2018. The new U.S. sanctions are a step in the right direction, but if the U.S. is going to have an impact on systemic corruption in Congo, much more extensive financial pressure on corrupt actors is needed."
Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "Former President Kabila has formally left office, but it is clear that he and his inner circle still hold the keys to power in the Congolese government. Targeted sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, and prosecutions against Kabila's inner network, financial facilitators, and their networks of companies will be critical to create the political space needed for much-needed anti-corruption reforms that Congolese civil society is rightly pushing for."
The sanctions require blocking of the designated persons’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
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Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an investigative team composed of policy analysts, international human rights lawyers, financial forensic investigators, and regional experts, along with former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, investigative journalists, policymakers, and banking professionals, that follows the dirty money and builds 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 policymakers around the world as well as wide-reaching education campaigns by mobilizing students, faith-based groups, celebrities, and others. The Sentry currently focuses its work in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.
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