Congolese auditor says $400m missing from state mining company | world news

By Stanis Bujakera and Aaron Ross

KINSHASA (Reuters) – More than $400 million in tax advances and loans that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned mining company Gécamines said it had paid to the national treasury could not be found, according to a report by the financial watchdog. government public finances.

State miner Gécamines has minority stakes in several of the world’s largest copper and cobalt projects, including Glencore’s Kamoto Copper Company mine and China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume mine.

Gécamines has long been dogged by corruption charges brought by non-governmental organizations and opposition politicians.

Gécamines has always denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Its secretary general did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday on the latest charges.

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Gécamines presented accounts to the auditors of the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) showing tax advances and loans to the Congolese state of more than $591 million, but only $178 million could be traced in Treasury accounts, according to an IGF audit report seen by Reuters. .

The report, dated May 31 but not made public, says the missing $413 million is believed to have been misappropriated and auditors will continue their investigations.

She did not specify when the advances and loans in question were made.

The report said an additional $175 million paid to Gécamines as a signing bonus for a copper and cobalt project also could not be traced to the Treasury, and blamed the company for not assessing independently the levels of mineral reserves in its joint ventures with foreign investors.

Gécamines produced nearly 500,000 tons of copper a year at its peak in the 1980s, but has since run into deep debt and sold its majority stakes in the big mines.

Congo is Africa’s leading copper producer and the world’s leading producer of cobalt, which is used in electric car batteries.

Since coming to power in 2019, President Félix Tshisekedi has reshuffled the leadership of Gécamines, replacing executives most closely linked to previous corruption allegations.

(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera and Aaron Ross; Editing by Peter Graff)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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