Prosecutors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon over allegations of misappropriating $140 million when serving under former President Joseph Kabila from 2012-2016.
Investigators appointed by President Felix Tshisekedi dug into the conduct of the previous government official, led by prosecutor, Jean-Paul Mukolo. Mukolo revealed that while serving as finance minister in 2011, Matata ordered payments to people without valid claims to government compensation under a law meant to reimburse foreign businesspeople who had properties seized in the 1970s.
Mukolo further accused Matata of misappropriating funds from a failed agriculture project, and requested the DRC Senate to lift Matata’s parliamentary immunity. However, this request was rejected last month.
However, Matata denied any wrongdoing and says the accusations are part of a smear campaign against him.
President Tshisekedi has vowed to root out graft, but the problem persists. The inspector general of public finances estimated that 70% of public expenditures are stolen. Tshisekedi’s first chief of staff, Vital Kamerhe, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on appeal this year for misappropriating millions in public funds.
Corruption is rampant in Congo, which is among the world’s poorest nations despite its vast reserves of copper, cobalt, gold and diamonds.