US Afriland First Bank case in DRC: how are whistleblowers credible?

05:08  27 february  2021
05:08  27 february  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Afriland First Bank , Yaoundé - Cameroun. 72,682 likes · 450 talking about this · 2,925 were here. Fondée en 1987, Afriland First Bank est la banque leader au Cameroun. Filiale du Groupe bancaire int

Pour la première fois, les deux lanceurs d’alerte d’Afriland First Bank CD témoignent à visage découvert. © Graphic studio FMM For the first time, the two whistleblowers of Afriland First Bank CD testify with their faces uncovered.

Since this Friday, two former listeners of Afriland First Bank CD, a subsidiary of a Cameroonian bank, testify on RFI and other media about the creation of a network which they qualify as mafia.

This network would have benefited in particular the Israeli businessman Dan Gertler, at the time under American sanctions. The latter ensures through his spokesperson that he does not know anything about the money laundering network that is attributed to him, he denounces "false statements" and "frankly ridiculous".

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On 2 October, Afriland First Bank filed a defamation suit against the British NGO Global Witness (GW) and the Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAF) before an investigating magistrate at a Paris court. The bank , represented by Éric Moutet has filed a civil suit and is attacking the report ‘Undermining The NGO and the platform, whose director of publication is none other than the lawyer William Bourdon, details the alleged evasion of US sanctions developed in Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC ) by businessman Dan Gertler and his associates, including through the

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Why are Gradi Koko Lobanga and Navy Malela credible in this case? First of all, for their position within the company. Both whistleblowers were members of the bank's internal audit department. Gradi Koko Lobanga was even the person in charge of this service. The two men were entitled and in a position to be able to investigate within the bank. The other whistleblower, Navy Malela, who remained until February 2020, was not only an auditor, but joined Afriland First Bank as a computer scientist. He was therefore able to access the databases of the bank. Moreover, Afriland does not dispute that the documents presented come from its registers, it just claims that they have been falsified. Gradi Koko Lobanga and Navy Malela are reportedly convicted in their country, among other things, for theft, forgery and use of forgery and criminal association.

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See more of Afriland First Bank on Facebook.

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Then, for the many documents they took with them in their flight. These are thousands of pages of bank documents, statements from various accounts. RFI was able to verify part of the information, in particular thanks to reports from the audit firm PwC which audited the accounts of Afriland First Bank until 2019, company registers, testimonials also from clients and other internal sources. .

Basically, in banking circles, nothing is surprising in the revelations of former employees of Afriland First Bank CD. Several of the most prominent banks in Kinshasa are said to operate similarly. This is moreover a bit of an admission made by the deputy director of Afriland First Bank CD in the interview granted to RFI and Actualité.cd : it has not been so long since the Central Bank has been monitoring or sanctioning banks. According to RFI information, it dates from the trial of the former chief of staff of Felix Tshisekedi Vital Kamerhe with the implication of the Central Bank and that of the Rawbank.

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First , the program allows whistleblowers who are represented by counsel to submit tips anonymously to the SEC. In certain circumstances, a whistleblower ’s identity may be withheld even from the SEC until a reward determination is made. However, even at the time of a reward, a whistleblower ’s identity is not made available to the public. Moreover, many whistleblowers are primarily driven by a desire to vindicate the public interest and combat unlawful conduct, not by a potential payout.

Afriland First Bank is a full-service bank in Cameroon, with subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Uganda[3] and Zambia. The bank was founded in Yaoundé in 1987 under the name of Caisse Commune d'Epargne et d'Investissement.

The example of Western Financial Services

One of the front companies attributed to Dan Gertler is Western Financial Services. She got several loans worth tens of millions of euros, a way, according to whistleblowers, to launder her dollars in euros.

According to the Congo Trade Register, Western Financial Services is a company created on July 4, 2018, after the Israeli businessman and his companies were put under sanctions. This is an investment company run by Zenon Mukuku. According to the 2014 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report, he also ran Orama Properties under US sanctions for his ties to Dan Gertler.

The Western Financial Services file was available on the Commercial Register website before the two whistleblowers disclosed. Since then, it has been mentioned as in liquidation.

Another concurring element: the report of the major audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the 2018 financial statements of Afriland First Bank CD. The audit firm mentions this link with a company under sanctions without specifying which one ... while affirming that the bank's accounts complied with the accounting principles in force in the DRC.

Asked by RFI about this contradiction, PwC explains no longer working with Afriland and having "raised any worrying question with the competent authorities", including the Central Bank of Congo (BCC).

Was the BCC aware of the existence of this company - Western Financial Services - and its alleged links with an entity under sanctions? No response from the BCC. But according to one of the whistleblowers, a central bank monitoring mission spent four to five months at Afriland First Bank CD in 2019.

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