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Belgian tycoon cedes control of DR Congo bank

Belgian tycoon George Forrest has sold his majority stake in the Commercial Bank of the Congo (BCDC) to Kenya’s Equity Group Holdings, the Kenyan firm announced Wednesday.

The Forrest group has operated in the vast central African country, mainly in the southeastern mining region, since 1922 when it was a Belgian colony.

It bought two-thirds of BCDC’s equity in 2009, a century after it was set up in the mineral-rich country.

Today the BCDC is the DR Congo’s second largest private bank, and Equity’s statement quoted Forrest as saying he hoped it would become the country’s biggest.

Equity Group Holding, which has been present in the DR Congo since 2005, acquired the 66.53 percent stake in the bank for $95 million, the statement said.

The acquisition comes as the country’s leading private bank, Rawbank, is implicated in a vast anti-corruption investigation.

It is suspected of involvement in the embezzlement of public funds earmarked for major projects launched by President Felix Tshisekedi soon after he took office early last year.

Forrest, 79, is among the wealthiest business leaders in French-speaking Africa.