Congo President Adviser Resigns After Caught in a Bribery Trap

Published: 21 September 2022

Vidiye-Tshimanga-Screenshot-9ccfa5cf5f8ffacc8d99c22ba8b8d531e066d59c82d1d69ff55cbde7ebfd6845Screenshot of Vidiye Tshimanga from a secret recording of his London meeting with the alleged representatives of Hong Kong’s conglomerate CK Hutchison. (Photo: OCCRP)

By Josef Skrdlik

A special adviser to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi resigned after a tape from an apparent sting operation, released and analyzed by OCCRP, showed him negotiating a corrupt mining deal.

“Following the scandal caused by the OCCRP’s article, I consider it my ethical obligation to file a resignation from my position of Special Adviser to the Chief of State,” Vidiye Tshimanga said in his resignation letter addressed to the President.

“With the wound being unfortunately too open at this stage, this seems to me the only decision of dignity to be made,” he added.

In the released tape, Tshimanga promised to facilitate mining licenses in return for a stake in a joint venture to a man and a woman who claimed to represent the Hong Kong-based conglomerate CK Hutchison.

The tape contained footage of Zoom calls and a subsequent meeting in a high-end restaurant in London, where Tshimanga traveled at the expense of the duo.

During the conversation, Tshimanga described how he could hide his share behind proxies and stressed his proximity to President Tshisekedi, stating for example that he has financed his campaign.

When asked if the President or a minister would be involved, he even seemed to suggest he was acting on Tshisekedi’s behalf. “Me, it’s the president,” Tshimanga said. “The president doesn’t do any business.”

OCCRP was unable to determine who taped the videos. Communicating anonymously via the messaging app Telegram, the makers stopped responding when asked about their identity and motives behind the operation.

Nevertheless, operations of similar character are rife in the country – typically linked to competition over access to lucrative minerals such as copper or cobalt.

Speaking to the reporters, Tshimanga later confirmed the authenticity of the videos but denied any wrongdoing, which he repeated in the resignation letter. In reference to the alleged full recording of the meetings — which he however refused to show to the reporters — he wrote that his remarks were taken out of context.

Tshimanga’s resignation was preceded by a statement released earlier on Friday by Tshisekedi’s Communications Director Erik Kibambe, who said that “any person, including within the Office of the President, whose behavior has violated the law (...) will suffer the consequences.”

Tshisekedi took office in 2019, replacing Joseph Kabila who ruled for 18 years and faced corruption accusations. He promised to clean up the country’s notoriously corrupt mining sector and distribute the mineral wealth among the Congolese nation, one of the poorest in the world.