DR Congo Acquits Former Presidential Adviser Tshimanga
A court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo acquitted a former presidential advisor who was charged with passive corruption, insults to the head of the state and influence peddling after OCCRP released a tape showing him negotiating a corrupt mining deal.
The tape shows Tshimanga promising to facilitate mining licenses in return for a stake in a joint venture to a man and a woman posing as representatives of a company interested in investing in the Congolese mining sector.
The material contained footage of video calls and a subsequent meeting in a high-end restaurant in London, where Tshimanga traveled at the expense of the duo.
Tshimanga described to the supposed investors how he could hide his share behind proxies and stressed his closeness to President Felix Tshisekedi.
Tshimanga resigned on September 16 – a day after the release of the discrediting material. He was subsequently placed in preventive detention but released on bail a few days later.
The trial against Vidiye Tshimanga opened on November 14 and his lawyers challenged the charges arguing that there was no identifiable victim in the alleged actions and since they occurred abroad, the Congolese judiciary was not eligible to judge the matter.
However, the Prosecutor insisted that the corruption offense started in Kinshasa and the Congolese state was the victim, demanding a three-year prison sentence for the accused.
The information about the ruling by the Kinshasa Peace Court was confirmed by Tshimanga’s lawyer Clément Ilunga in a statement for the local media. The exact reason for his acquittal is not yet clear.
It was not immediately clear why the trap was set up but operations of similar character are rife in Congo – typically linked to competition over access to the country’s lucrative minerals.
Congo is endowed with vast mineral wealth but remains one of the poorest nations in the world, stricken by corruption, political instability and recurrent civil conflict.