Congo-Kinshasa: New Report - Strategies for Cleaning Up Corruption in Post-Election DR Congo

Corruption
press release

"Corruption is at the core of every reform issue in Congo"

A new report by the Enough Project urges the international community--in particular the United States, European Union, and African Union--to focus on key anti-corruption and accountability reforms in post-election Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). Despite the flawed elections in December 2018 in which President Félix Tshisekedi came to power, Congo's political transition offers new opportunities to enact critical governance reforms, and those reforms must be backed by financial pressure on corrupt officials and companies.

John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: "The international community has a responsibility to support pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in Congo by ensuring that the international financial system is not used as a conduit for illicit financial flows which fuel conflict and stymie democratic growth. Maintaining and escalating financial pressures toward corrupt actors at the heart of a kleptocratic system of government in Congo will make it more difficult for these individuals to profit from violence and repression."

The report, "Leveraging Reform: Fighting Corruption in Post-Election DR Congo," by Sarah Gardiner and Sasha Lezhnev, urges the United States, European Union, and African Union to adopt a two-track approach:

Engage with President Tshisekedi in support of anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability reforms on the one hand, and

Employ robust financial pressure to hold corrupt actors accountable and leverage those reforms on the other hand.

Without this pressure from both outside and within Congo, corrupt officials who have a vested interest in perpetuating a kleptocratic state will block reform measures.

Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "Corruption is at the core of every reform issue in Congo. It is critical for the international community to focus on anti-corruption measures in order to help move reforms on any issue forward. The U.S. government has a key role to play in urging President Tshisekedi to implement reforms such as requiring state-owned mining companies to publish audited financial reports, and then leveraging those reforms by holding corrupt actors accountable through anti-money laundering measures and sanctions on corrupt networks."

Sarah Gardiner, Investigative Analyst at The Sentry, said: "The current moment in Congo's political history represents a significant opportunity for much-needed reform. However, the regime of former President Joseph Kabila continues to exert significant influence over the government and key sectors of the economy. Financial pressures in the form of network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures toward those with an interest in blocking anti-corruption reforms can create the political space needed for creation of a transparent and accountable system of government."

Without this pressure from both outside and within Congo, corrupt officials who have a vested interest in perpetuating a kleptocratic state will block reform measures.

·Click here to read the report

Report recommendations:

Specific anti-corruption reforms:

The United States, European Union and African Union should allocate diplomatic and technical resources to implement reforms in key areas highlighted by Congolese civil society:

Gécamines. Require Gécamines, the state-owned mining company at the heart of numerous corruption scandals, to (i) publish its annual financial reports, (ii) undergo an independent audit and publicly release its results, and (iii) investigate and replace, as appropriate, senior management involved in grand corruption.

Asset declaration. Enforce the existing law requiring public officials to declare their assets and do so publicly. This should include those assets held by President Tshisekedi and his predecessor Kabila.

IMF. Invite the International Monetary Fund to re-launch a program in Congo. Such a move would improve Congo's fiscal situation, enhance transparency and monitoring of the mining sector and the Central Bank of Congo -- a key institution involved in corruption scandals.

Mining and oil contract transparency. Issue a decree announcing that the government will now fully enforce the Congolese government requirement to disclose publicly all mining and oil contracts. President Tshisekedi should also investigate opaque deals made under the Kabila regime.

Security Sector Reform and Accountability. Establish a robust accountability mechanism for grave international crimes and corruption with international participation.

Specific financial pressures to leverage anti-corruption reforms:

The reforms outlined above will lack the political space necessary to succeed unless former President Kabila and his inner circle are marginalized from positions of power and influence. The report recommends the following actions be taken by the United States, European Union, and African Union:

Network sanctions against current and former corrupt Congolese officials, their associates and corporate networks. The United States, European Union, and African Union should sanction individuals and companies involved in high-level government corruption, including the misappropriation of state funds, and human rights abuses.

Anti-money laundering measures. Robust application of anti-money laundering measures would disrupt the ability of Congolese Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) to launder corrupt proceeds abroad, including through the US and European banking systems.

Diplomatic engagement to maintain impact of existing sanctions. The African Union, European Union, United Nations and United States should coordinate to enforce existing sanctions.

Asset recovery. The US Justice Department/FBI Kleptocracy Initiative should aggressively pursue the proceeds of corruption that were laundered from Congo during the Kabila era.

Accountability for electoral fraud. The European Union and African Union should issue targeted financial sanctions against individuals and their networks, including their financial partners, most responsible for fraud relating to the elections, following on the U.S. sanctions issued in March 2019.

·Click here to read the report

·Cliquez ici pour lire le rapport.

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Megha Swamy at mswamy@enoughproject.org or +1-202-580-7671.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT

The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa's deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more - and join us - at www.EnoughProject.org.

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