Expatica news

Belgium issues warrant for Congo ex-minister

4 June 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for a former minister in the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was announced on Friday.

Investigating magistrate Michel Claise says he wants to speak with the ex-minister, Jean-Charles Okoto Lolakombe, in connection with a huge money laundering scandal.

Lolakobe also headed a major diamond company, Miba, and was the one-time leader of DRC President Joseph Kabila’s political party.

Claise believes he illegally funnelled over EUR 65 million out of the diamond firm via a Belgian bank, the Belgolaise.

“Part of this sum is alleged to have been used to buy arms from Ukrainian and Czech arms companies in violation of a UN embargo,” the investigator’s office said in a statement.

Lolakombe is also accused of ordering the kidnap of a Miba worker in Brussels last year.

Claise has also summoned Belgolaise head Marc-Yves Blainpain and four other bank employees in connection with the scandal.

Meanwhile, Belgian airline SN Brussels said on Friday that it had ordered two of its aircraft to turn back from flights to DRC capital Kinshasa.

The company said it had made the decision amid concerns about mounting violence in the DRC.

Both planes were set to return to Brussels after making a scheduled stopover in Cameroun, SN Brussels said.

Three people were killed in Kinshasa after protests broke out across the RDC this week.

The unrest followed the capture of the eastern city of Bukavu by rebel forces.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news