State Funds Seen at Risk in Congo Presidential Vote Campaign

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Republic of Congo presidential-hopeful Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary’s appointments to his campaign-finance team raises the risk state funds will be used to finance his election bid, two anti-graft groups said.

Shadary, the ruling-coalition candidate chosen by President Joseph Kabila to succeed him, is seeking to become the leader of the world’s biggest cobalt producer in a vote scheduled for Dec. 23. The 57-year-old former interior minister has been sanctioned by the European Union for his role in human-rights abuses.

Shadary approved 48 campaign “cells” on Nov. 5 that include officials who oversee entities from which “significant” public funds have disappeared over the past decade, London-based Global Witness and the Senegal-based Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa said in a joint statement.

“When a presidential candidate, who is subject to European sanctions, aligns himself with people who have run key institutions in a regime already accused of widespread corruption, then there is a huge risk that the line between public money and private political interests will become blurred during this election campaign,” Pete Jones of Global Witness said in the statement.

High-profile members of the “cell’ responsible for managing financing and logistics include Albert Yuma, the president of state mining company Gecamines, and Moise Ekanga, the chief of the government agency that manages a multi-billion dollar loan program from Chinese banks.

A report by the Atlanta-based Carter Center last November claimed nearly $750 million paid by international mining companies to Gecamines between 2011 and 2014 were missing from the company’s accounts. It also stated Congo’s government failed to account for more $500 million from the Chinese infrastructure loans over a six-year period from 2008.

Yuma and Ekanga “have both run state agencies with a dubious record of resource management,” according to the statement.

Yuma has repeatedly rejected the assertion that any money received by Gecamines has gone untraced. He didn’t answer three calls or an email seeking comment on Friday.

Ekanga rejected the allegations.

“These accusations are fomented by those who don’t want the DRC to take off,” he said by email. “Those who don’t bother to read the conventions signed between the DRC and certain of its partners, those who think its possible to divert $500 million and see the government and the Chinese state companies continue their cooperation.”

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