'Massive embezzlement' under Tandja

2010-12-30 09:18

Niamey - An enquiry ordered by Niger's junta has uncovered alleged state financial misappropriation amounting to nearly €98m over 10 years under ousted president Mamadou Tandja, according to its report seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The investigation by the commission against economic and financial crime set up by the junta that ousted Tandja in February this year implicates the former president himself, alongside more than 2 000 other people, in the alleged fraud.

On the list of suspects are relatives of Tandja and former ministers, parliamentarians and military officers, according to the investigation carried out on the request of the military junta.

It "implicates 2 069 people in different financial misappropriation, from the embezzlement of public funds to illegally receiving compensation", the report says.

"The total of these financial irregularities amounts to more than 64 billion CFA francs, of which 57 billion CFA francs was misappropriated during the period 2000 to 2010," the report says.

Concerning Tandja, who ruled from 1999 until the February coup, it said "several cases in which he is cited have been finalised and sent to the competent authorities".

The commission wants those involved to reimburse the amounts taken and its investigations have already sent several senior officials to jail.

Commission president Abdoul-Karim Mossi said on television late Tuesday that 5.626 billion CFA francs had already been recovered.

The state this month stripped Tandja of his immunity, which a government spokesman said opens the way for legal proceedings against him.

The junta, called the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy and led by General Salou Djibo, ousted Tandja on February 18 after he tried to cling to office.

It has pledged to turn install democracy in the poor west African country, with presidential elections planned for January 31.