Egal, a company controlled by Kabila’s inner circle, has also received millions from public institutions through BGFIBank
(Paris, November 29th, 2021) Egal, a top Congolese food company, paid $3.34 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential office during the rule of former President Joseph Kabila through BGFIBank, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) revealed today. This revelation is part of the Congo Hold-up investigations.
The company’s executives previously denied acting on behalf of President Kabila.
The 23 December 2013 payment to the presidency account, however, comes on top of an additional $3.3 million of public money and $21.2 million of suspect funds sent to Port de Fisher, a company majority-controlled by Kabila.
Public money also helped Kabila stock his vast private landholdings with wild animals – including giraffes, elephants and zebras – imported from Namibia.
The Congo Hold-up investigations into Africa’s biggest ever data leak were initiated by PPLAAF and Mediapart, and coordinated with the media network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). The investigations were carried out by 19 media groups and five NGOs.
Today’s revelations on the payments to the presidency also feature in a new BBC Africa Eye documentary, “Congo’s missing millions”
The spokesman for the current Congolese government has said the justice minister has “issued an injunction for the purposes of investigation and prosecution”, following Congo Hold-up’s revelations that Kabila, his family and associates had diverted at least $138 million from the country’s most important institutions, including the Central Bank, the national electoral commission and the state mining company. The corrupt transactions all took place within the DRC branch of BGFI, which was part-owned by Kabila’s sister and run by his adopted brother Francis Selemani.
DRC’s anti-corruption czar, Jules Alingete, has told Congo Hold-up that Egal must have known about the diversion of the public funds. He has said that BGFI belongs to a “mafia group” and that “what has happened is unacceptable.” In an earlier letter to Egal, published online, he had exonerated the company.
“Today’s new revelations underscore once again the role played by the former President and his associations in the looting of the DRC,” said Henri Thulliez of PPLAAF. “Official investigations are urgently needed on a national and international level to determine how such an astonishing level of theft was possible, and ensure there is no repeat.”
The payment to the Office of the President
Egal – the subject of “A Fishy Tale: The President’s friends and the looting of a hungry nation”, a special report by PPLAAF– received its $43 million gift from the Central Bank on 29 November 2013, with the money landing into a “holding account” supposed to act as collateral. Less than a month later, on 23 December, Egal paid $3.34 from the holding account to the presidency.
BGFI records show that before the arrival of Egal’s $3.34 million, the presidency account was heavily in the red. This was because $2.82 million had been withdrawn in cash by Emmanuel Adrupiako, Financial Director of the presidency, over the period 23 to 27 May 2013. The withdrawals made the presidency account $2.97 million overdrawn—and it remained in overdraft until Egal’s $3.34 million plugged the hole in the account seven months later.
In an email the same day, BGFI’s operations director in the DRC, Moreau Kaghoma, emailed a senior colleague: “We have executed the transfer request for $3.34 million from Egal to the Presidency.”
A BGFI document – regarding a separate loan made to Adrupiako in 2014 – said he is the “Financial Director for the Head of State”, and that “his role consists in managing, planning and organising everything that concerns finances”. It also said he is one of the founders of Kabila’s political party, the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD).
Adrupiako has been at the centre of corruption and money-laundering allegations. Reuters has revealed that in 2015 he received $700,000 from two United Arab Emirates shell companies. Both companies were closely linked to Semlex, a Belgian company granted an extremely lucrative contract to produce biometric passports for the DRC just weeks before.
Adrupiako did not reply to emailed questions from Congo Hold-up, although a lawyer representing him said that he had a duty to act in accordance with laws on public accounts “in the exercise of his functions as the financial assistant to the Cabinet of the President of the Republic at the time of the facts as described”.
As well as the payments to the presidency by Egal, the Kabila-controlled company Port de Fisher received about the same amount - $3.3 million – that was siphoned off from the national electoral commission, the Central Bank and the lower house of parliament between December 2016 and October 2017. Records show the funds were channelled through a BGFI “operations account” that was also used for a range of other suspect transactions.
Port de Fisher, whose exact purpose is unclear, was 55%-owned by Kabila since November 2015, through his landholding company Ferme Espoir, documents obtained by anti-corruption group The Sentry show. But a BGFI internal compliance document from mid-2017 states that the bank had “no information on the shareholders and directors of the company”.
An additional $21.2 million of suspect funds went to Port de Fisher, according to BGFI data: $20.1 million from the BGFI’s account at the Central Bank, and $1.1 million from Sinaco, a private Congolese company importing cement from China.
It is unclear where the funds being paid out by BGFI’s account at the Central Bank originated from, but there are indications – described in PPLAAF’s report on Egal - that the account may have been fed by the Central Bank itself, which had oversight of it.
Sinaco has denied knowingly making any payments to Port de Fisher. Its manager, Tony Kapalata, told Congo Hold-up: “If what you say is true, I will be the first to sue the bank.”
The Central Bank, BGFI and Kabila declined to respond to questions from Congo Hold-up. In a 24 November press release, however, BGFI said it “condemns with the greatest firmness acts contrary to the law and ethics which may have been committed in the past within its BGFIBank RDC SA branch, and for which its employees could have been responsible”. BGFI’s former operations director Kaghoma, no longer at the bank, did not reply to questions from the consortium, but said “the bank is among the most regulated and rigorous institutions”.
Egal said it had been exonerated by Congolese authorities over the Central Bank’s $43 million payment but declined to answer questions from Congo Hold-up. It condemned the consortium’s investigation as a “campaign of destabilisation”. The $43 million payment clearly shows up in the leaked accounts from BGFI.
Kabila’s political party, the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD), denounced the revelations as “a politically orchestrated attack against its Leader”.
PPLAAF is a non-governmental organization established in 2017 to protect whistleblowers, as well as to advocate and engage in strategic litigation on their behalf when their revelations deal with the general interests of African citizens
For more information, please contact:
Daniel Balint-Kurti, author of the report (English, French): email@example.com
Gabriel Bourdon- Fattal, PPLAAF Project manager (English, French): firstname.lastname@example.org or +33-6-58-01-61-96
For more information on PPLAAF, please visit: