Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Congo Brazzaville: Straw men of the regime

In every corrupt system and not to mention a Kleptocracy, those benefiting from the system most often do not have the expertise to manage their wealth or investments. They are either unqualified or woefully incompetent or both in some sad cases. And sometimes in order not to attract attention, beneficiaries of Kleptocracies most often chose to hide or operate through straw men and women. This way they hope, they can best dissimulate their loot. In Congo, those helping the ruling Nguesso family to siphon state funds are an intractable web of mostly “strange” men whose opaque business successes are always glamorized in their state media and alleged private media. However among the tentacle of straw men of the Nguessos, those who standouts are: Denis Gokana, Paul Obambi, Willy Etoka, Vincent Gomez and Lucien Ebata. Some of them: Paul Obambi and Vincent Gomez, have been profiled in this book (See who is who in Congo).  The list of straw men or women working on behalf of the Kleptocratic family latter mentioned is not an exhaustive. But at least, those mentioned are present in strategic areas of the Congolese economy.

Pierre Cardin Communist

Officially, Denis Sassou Nguesso, in strict respect to his communist ideology doesn’t want to own any colossal property, at least, officially. And he also pretends not to have amassed wealth. In fact, he claims to lead a frugal life style. But the reality is different. He is referred to as a “Pierre Cardin Communist” because of his taste for French designer suits and also the recent disclosures of his excesses and those of his children by anti corruption NGOs based in London and Paris such as Global Witness, Sherpa and Transparency International. He is also accused of having amassed enormous fortune in foreign banks. While I don’t dispute the preceding claims, I would like to focus on what I have found out during my investigations in Congo. 

Sectors they control

Revelations were made to me by people who are around the president, but who won’t want to be named. They reveled to me that: Denis Sassou Nguesso besides officially being involved in farming and animal husbandry, he is unofficially involved in publishing through his firm known as Agence d’information de l’afrique Central abbreviated ADIAC. This company owns one of the most modern printing presses in the country besides that of Ayessa Printing Press, owned by Maurice Nguesso. ADIAC is the publisher of the only daily in the country: Les Depeches de Brazzaville. This simply means that, the first publishers in the country are Denis and Maurice Nguesso.

 Covered up

ADIAC media group is managed by a French journalist called Jean Paul Pigasse. In order to make sure that all traces of his investments are well covered up and is not challenged by any forms of internal competition; he has maneuvered for the national printing press to be run aground. Hence the national daily: La Nouvelle Republique has become a sporadic publication, while his daily, Les Depeches de Brazzaville blossoms with regular publications. In destroying both the national printing press and the national daily, Sassou Nguesso is certain that, Les Depeches de Brazzaville will remain the only daily in the country promoting his regime and his printing Press winning all other deals. Besides being into the media/publishing, the president is also into the banking sector through a straw man.

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