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Corruption causes huge mining revenue losses in DRC
July 30, 2017, 5:24 pm

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is losing a fifth of all of mining revenues because of corruption and mismanagement, said Global Witness, the international NGO that works to break the link between natural resource exploitation, conflict, corruption, poverty and human rights.

In a report published last week, Global Witness, said at least US$750 million paid by companies to the Congo's tax agencies and state-owned mining company Gecamines disappeared between 2013 and 2015.

Alleging that at least some of the funds were distributed among corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila, the report added that the losses deprived DRC of funds that could have been used on public services.

Congo is Africa's top copper producer and the world's biggest supplier of cobalt, which is used in mobile phones and electric cars. It also produces coltan, diamonds, tin and gold. However, it is wracked by conflict and remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

"Congo's mining revenues should be helping to lift its people out of poverty, but instead huge sums are being siphoned away from the public purse and into unaccountable agencies headed up by people with ties to political elites," said Global Witness in its report.

The findings come amid renewed political unrest in the Congo after the country's election commission announced that a vote to replace Kabila was unlikely to take place this year. The political turmoil and persistently low prices for Congo's exports has caused the Congolese franc to lose 40 percent of its value in the past year.

Global Witness said a key cause of discontent with the regime was the chronic lack of funding by the government in basic services such as schools, hospitals and roads. The main culprit in the diversion of funds was Gecamines, a state-owned company tasked with the exploration, research and production of Congo's mineral deposits, the report said.

Gecamines is "hemorrhaging money in suspect transactions ... while simultaneously failing to make any substantial contribution to the national treasury or invest in its own mining operations," the report stated. Global Witness also found the country’s ‘secretive’ tax agencies culpable of keeping back a portion of mining revenues for their own funds, rather than transfer it to the national treasury. The report added that the missing revenues would rise to $1.3 billion when loses at other state bodies and a now-defunct provincial tax body were included.

In its response to the Global Witness report, the president’s spokesperson Lambert Mende said the judiciary would deal with all corruption cases. "We have institutions in charge of handling such cases. The courts are working and if it's true that money from mining revenues is being embezzled, those involved will be brought to court and be prosecuted," said Mr. Mende.

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