#COVID19: Cameroon Prime Minister Under Probe Over Over 274.4 Million Euro Fraud

An ongoing investigation into mismanaged COVID-19 funds in Cameroon indicates possible involvement of the Prime Minister.

Cameroon’s Prime Minister and Head of Government, Joseph Dion Ngute, was last week interrogated by investigators of the Special Criminal Tribunal in connection with the scandal concerning the embezzlement of over 180 billion FCFA (about US$360 million) which was a subvention from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Cameroon combat COVID-19.

According to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office that opted for anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, the Head of Government was discretely quizzed in his Lake-Side residence instead of being invited to the Special Criminal Tribunal where suspects in cases involving misappropriation of funds above  50 million FCFA are usually interrogated.

Though no official information has filtered as to the reason for the interrogation, those in the know say that Prime Minister Ngute was questioned in connection with public contracts he is alleged to have authorised to be signed for the disbursement of funds from the 274.4 million euros given to Cameroon by the IMF.

The current investigations are being carried out after a report of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court which questioned the integrity of the management of the said IMF subvention.

“Though the report of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court does not accuse the Prime Minister by name of any wrongdoing, the Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie is reported to have cited his name during his own interrogation,” a source told HumAngle. 

“The minister is said to have inferred that the Prime Minister authorized him to go ahead with the signing of certain contracts which eventually resulted in the misappropriation of some funds.”

The provisional report of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court which was leaked in March this year, points out serious irregularities in the award of contracts for the acquisition of test kits and other material intended to be used in the fight against the coronavirus.

Besides the flouting of the public tenders code in the award of the said contracts, the report pointed out that most of the material was overcharged and some of the contracts were not executed though they were paid for.

The report of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court recommended the opening of judicial inquiries into the overall management of the COVID-19 funds and President Paul Biya instructed the Minister of Justice to prosecute all those who are found to have been involved in the embezzlement of any COVID-19 funds.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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