Congo: former health minister arrested over missing COVID funds

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The previous Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo Eteni Longondo was put Friday under temporary capture for supposed misappropriation of assets assigned to the battle against the Covid pandemic, jail and government sources said.

“The previous Minister of Public Health, Dr. Eteni Longondo, was addressed finally by the examiner at the Court of Cassation and put under temporary capture warrant this evening. I couldn’t say whether he is now in jail,” an individual from the public authority told AFP, mentioning namelessness “for the sake of the partition of forces.

“Dr. Eteni has surely shown up here at the Makala focal jail based on a temporary capture warrant gave by the examiner’s office. We have introduced him in structure 8,” a jail official told AFP on state of namelessness.

The exchange to the jail occurred in the early evening, as indicated by a few sources reached by AFP. Mr. Eteni Longondo, Minister of Health from 2019 until last April, is blamed for “misappropriation of public assets distributed to the reaction” against Covid-19, composed on Twitter the Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ).

In August 2020, the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) had associated the previous clergyman Longondo with having stolen in excess of 7 million dollars expected for the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic in the DRC, whose administration is portrayed by “the shortfall of supporting records of costs” made.

Mr. Longondo has consistently denied having stolen this cash, contending that “these archives were currently being confirmed by his administrations” at the hour of the review. In November, he returned $721,900 to the public depository, addressing “the excessive charge” and “the distinction on the cleaning of the People’s Palace”, the seat of parliament, just as a “twofold installment made by the Central Bank of Congo”.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has made the battle against debasement one of the needs of his term. Mr. Longondo is the principal chief of the official party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) to be captured for stealing public assets.

The previous head of staff to the Congolese chief, Vital Kamerhe, was condemned to 13 years in jail for stealing more than $50 million to assemble pre-assembled houses for the military and police.