Brussels prosecutors are investigating a deal between Belgian company Semlex and the Democratic Republic of Congo to supply biometric passports, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said on Thursday.
The impoverished Democratic Republic of Congo has introduced biometric passports costing $185 apiece. But most of that money does not go to the state. Instead millions of dollars go to a private company in the Gulf – and sources say it is owned by a relative of president Joseph Kabila.
Documents reviewed by Reuters showed that, of the $185 cost of each passport, just $65 goes to the Congolese government. A $12 slice of that goes to a firm based in the capital Kinshasa that oversees the project, while $48 goes to Semlex, the Belgian suppliers of the passport. The remaining $60 goes to LRPS, a company based in the Gulf state that is owned by Makie Makolo Wangoi, a source told Reuters.
Following the revelations, the leader of Congo’s main opposition bloc has demanded that Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, who was appointed by Kabila on April 7, uncover where the passport funds are going. “Tshibala should show his independence by resolving this problem, and then we will speak,” said Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Rassemblement opposition coalition.