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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Swiss court approves African kleptocracy: Mobutu’s loot to go to his family

Chairman of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, Mark Pieth raised an appeal against a Swiss bank to release $6million in assets belonging to former DR Congo’s dictator, Mobutu Sese Sisoko, to DR Congo, but the court rather ruled the looted money to the late dictator’s family.

The Swiss government had repeatedly blocked the release of the embezzled funds to DR Congo, and the Swiss bank appealed to continually freeze the loot. However, Mobutu’s family stands to gain.

Mr. Pieth who is also a professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Basel, a member of Swiss Federal Gaming Commission, Chairman of the Board of the Basel Institute on Governance, and a UN Intergovernmental Expert Group Commission to determine the extent of illicit trafficking in drugs, has described the court’s decision as a harsh setback for DR Congo.

According to a Ghanaian political activist, anti-corruption campaigner, and blogger: Lord Aikins Adusei, Switzerland has built a reputation as the world´s center for tax evasion, fraud accounting, money laundering, racketeering, save haven and above all a staunch ally of corrupt third world leaders and a great beneficiary of third world corruption.

In the last decade the banking secrecy laws of Swiss banks have been accused of accepting money from dictators and leaders like Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, and late Sani Abacha, Guniea’s Lansana Conte, Togo’s Gnassingbe Eyadema, Gabon’s Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guniea’s Obiang Nguema, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Campore, Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, Libya’s Gaddafi, DR Congo’s Mobutu, etcetera, without questioning the source of their wealth.

Mobutu seized power in Congo in 1965 and ruled the country for nearly 32 years, living in extreme luxury. He is reported to have blended together Belgium’s, King Leopold’s dictatorship with institutionalized corruption based on systematic political and financial patronage - a system that became known as kleptocracy. Before he was overthrown in 1997, Mobutu amassed a personal fortune estimated to be as much as $5bn.

The surviving family members of Mobutu are not fondly remembered in DR Congo, because Mobutu bankrupted the country, using its enormous wealth to buy political loyalties, mansions, and brutally suppressed political enemies with the support of Western Cold War sponsors.

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