Benin president fires minister

2010-07-08 15:41

Cotonou - Benin's President Boni Yayi has sacked his interior minister, the government said on Thursday, accusing him of involvement in a financial scheme that may have swindled thousands of people out of 100 billion CFA francs ($192.1m).

 At least 100 000 people took to the streets this week to demand the government of the West African country help them reclaim money from ICC Services, an investment firm accused of running a Madoff-style scheme to defraud depositors.

The government said in a statement the interior minister, Armand Zinzindohoue, is "blamed for his direct involvement" in the affair. He had been earlier tasked with heading a team to address the scandal. Speaking separately, Yayi said the firm must "satisfy its clients in order to avoid a social crisis in our country".

"To fight poverty, a solution has to be found, otherwise poverty will become even worse," Yayi said.

Clients deposited money with ICC Services on promises they would profit by putting their money into accounts bearing interest rates of up to 50%, 20 times more than other banks. They later found they could not withdraw it again.

ICC Services officials have been put under house arrest and were not available for comment.