Republic of Congo President Sassou-Nguesso’s grip on power in the natural resource-rich country has lasted decades.
Sassou-Nguesso further solidified his power with his fifth and most recent election victory in March of this year, which also resulted in the appointment of his namesake son to a new government position.
With this concentration of power within the hands of a few key individuals come accusations of corruption. Sassou-Nguesso’s family members have been connected to property assets in Florida, New York City, and elsewhere. Sassoufit with the support of C4ADS tracked the assets of Sassou-Nguesso’s allies, family members, and political nomenklatura, tracking a total of USD 32.5 million tied to these politically exposed people.
Sassoufit with the support of C4ADS tracked the assets of Sassou-Nguesso’s allies, family members, and political nomenklatura, tracking a total of $ 32.5 million tied to these politically exposed peopleTweet
By identifying these assets, the anti-corruption community will have the necessary insight to combat the kleptocrat state and hold those who abuse their power accountable for corrupt activity.
Graph of the main Protagonists
Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso
President Sassou-Nguesso’s son has been affiliated with the government and its state-owned entities for years and has long been accused of embezzling profits derived from the national oil company.
While we do not have access to private transactions and/or bank statements to verify the authenticity of such accusations, we can use publicly available information (PAI) to create a picture of his foreign asset holdings.
According to documents sourced from Seamless Horizons, C4ADS’s proprietary database of corporate registry information, property records, and related datasets –, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso jointly purchased an apartment in Dubai with Danièle Mboussou Ognanosso, the first of his wives. The apartment was supposedly located in the Pentominium building, which has since halted construction.
Therefore, it is unclear if Denis Christel still owns the apartment. However, based on the schematics of the apartment, which includes 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, the property has an estimated value between USD 500,000 and USD 1 million.
According to a Global Witness report, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso also acquired in 2009 for Danièle a 4,200 square feet with swimming pool Miami property in Coral Gables for USD 2.4 million.
Nathalie Boumba Pembé
Sassoufit with the support from C4ADS found records for an additional USD 2.4 million property owned by another of Sassou Nguesso’s wives, Nathalie Boumba Pembe.
Purchased jointly by “Denis Christelle” and Dominique Siby in 2012, the title ownership was transferred to Denis Christel alone later that year and then to Nathalie Boumba Pembe in 2016. The property was sold by Nathalie Boumba Pembe in 2020 to Biscayne Crown Jewel LLC for a nominal payment of USD 10 but sales, data in the Miami property registry indicate that the selling price was USD 2.4 million.
The USD 2.4-million condo at Biscayne Bay was Nathalie Boumba Pembe’s second real estate acquisition in Miami; in 2011, she acquired a USD 230,000 condo in Aventura, FL, a Miami suburb. In 2020, she sold both properties in quick succession: first the Aventura condo in September 2020 for USD 270,000, then the Biscayne Bay condo in October 2020.
Although Nathalie Boumba Pembe signed both deeds from different countries outside the US, notarized witness statements attached to each deed show she signed the first in the Republic of Congo, and the second, almost two months later, in Dubai. She listed the same address on both deeds: 3 Rue de L’amitie, Centre Ville, Brazzaville, which appears to be the address of state telecommunications regulator ARPCE.
Pembe also appears to own a property in Dubai, possibly located in the Yes Business Center Tower Office.
Cendrine Sassou Nguesso
Since April 2014, by Decree number 2014-179 of April 29, 2014, President Sassou Nguesso’s daughter Cendrine Sassou Nguesso has served as the Chairman of the Management Committee of the Agency for the Promotion of Investment (API) in the Republic of Congo.
Essentially, API is responsible for encouraging and facilitating foreign and domestic investment in the Congo. At the same time, Cedrine has established two companies based in Dubai — Censass Capital, created in October 2019, and KIMIKIA General Trading, in October 2020. Cendrine’s involvement with Censass Capital suggests a potential for conflict of interest due to her position with the API, which would allow her insider knowledge of ongoing and future investments in the Congo.
Cendrine’s involvement with Censass Capital suggests a potential for conflict of interest due to her position with the APITweet
Besides being the daughter of President Sassou Nguesso, she is the ex-wife of a Congo Brazzaville-based Italian trader Fabio Ottonello famous for his involvement in the OPL245 oil scandal in Nigeria. Cendrine Sassou Nguesso is often in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, where she now has her quarters in the sumptuous parties of Teodorin Obiang Nguema.
Blandine Malila Lumandé
Blandine Malila Lumande is the step-daughter of President Sassou-Nguesso through his marriage to Antoinette Loemba Tchibota.
Not only is she, by Decree n ° 2013-14 of January 30, 2013, the Chief of Staff of her mother Antoinette and closely connected with the Congo Assistance Foundation, she also recently took on a role as the humanitarian action advisor to her step-father President Sassou Nguesso according to decree 2021-315 of June 22, 2021.
It is alleged that the Congo Assistance Foundation acts as a means of access to the President, as well as a laundromat for “donations” that often translate into contracts awarded to benefactors as shown by the Dirty Diesel report by Switzerland NGO Public Eye. This is how ENI under the new contracts awarded to its Congolese branch mentions in its report a donation of € 8.5 million in 2007 to « a local humanitarian NGO »: the Congo Assistance Foundation. Blandine’s proximity to power and her role with the Congo Assistance Foundation demonstrates her level of potential exposure to corruption and maleficence.
ENI under the new contracts awarded to its Congolese branch mentions in its report a donation of € 8.5 million in 2007 to « a local humanitarian NGO »: the Congo Assistance Foundation.Tweet
In particular, Blandine allegedly owns a four-bedroom and four-bathroom villa in Dubai in a luxury community called Arabian Ranches. Available homes are currently priced anywhere between USD1.1 to USD1.9 million.
Blandine allegedly owns a four-bedroom and four-bathroom villa in Dubai in a luxury community called Arabian RanchesTweet
Steve Loemba was previously romantically involved with Blandine Malila Lumande — but his power connections extend beyond that relationship.
Loemba works under the Presidency of the Republic of Congo as the Head of State’s representative and adviser to the Minister in charge of Regional Planning and Major Works.
Given his official role, private business operations would appear to be a conflict of interest. Yet, he is the Chairman of a company, Eminence Conseil whose main business activities are investment strategy, fiscal optimization of investments, and lobbying.
Loemba appears to own a property in Dubai, similar to Blandine. The property is estimated to be a five-bed and five-bath villa in Dubai in the Emirate Hills where similarly sized homes are valued at a low estimate of nearly USD 6 million.
Loemba appears to own a property in Dubai, similar to Blandine. The property is estimated to be a 5-bed and 5-bath villa in Dubai in the Emirate Hills where similarly sized homes are valued at a low estimate of nearly $ 6 millionTweet
Judicaelle Okemba Mouandinga Darboux
The asset ownership abroad extends beyond the president’s immediate family and those they are close with. Notably, JUDICAELLE PRUDENCE OKEMBA MOUANDINGA DARBOUX’s father is one of the most discreet agents of the Sassou Nguesso regime.
Known as the “The Special’’, Jean Dominique Okemba, is the nephew of Sassou Nguesso, the head of the secret services, and chairman of the board of directors of BGFI Congo. Judicaelle’s properties in France have been well documented in the past — with allegedly owing four different homes across the country. Her husband Alexis DARBOUX is the co-owner of a Luxembourg company NOVATISS SA created in April 2010 with Meyebine GNASSINGBE, the son of the Togolese dictator Faure GNASSINGBE EYADEMA.
C4ADS’s Seamless Horizons data portal also identifies her as the owner of an apartment in Dubai. Judicaelle appears to own a home located in a residential development of Janusia which is described as “Dubai’s most anticipated and secluded community of Akoya Oxygen.” A three-bedroom property located in this development has an estimated value of USD 380,000.
Corporate registry records from Switzerland show that Okemba Mouadinga registered Serenity Cosmetics Suisse SA in the country in May 2019. According to its website, Serenity Cosmetics markets cosmetics across Switzerland, Canada, France, and Belgium. The company is Okemba Moadinga’s second business venture — she also operates Serenity Spa, located in “the heart of Brazzaville in a luxurious 400 square meter villa.”
Judicaelle appears to own a home located in a residential development of Janusia which is described as “Dubai’s most anticipated and secluded community of Akoya Oxygen”Tweet
CHRIST BONAVENTURE ENGOBO
Colonel Christ Bonaventure Engobo, the deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council and the Ambassador to Angola, has also purchased a home in Dubai.
Engobo has long been involved in the Sassou-Nguesso regime, including being one of the killers of Owando, which contributed to the start of the civil war in Congo in 1997Tweet
Engobo has long been involved in the Sassou-Nguesso regime, including being one of the killers of Owando, which contributed to the start of the civil war in Congo in 1997 according to Congolese historian Patrice Yengo and FIDH report :
“ On June 4, 1997, at the end of a Council of Ministers, the Government through its spokesperson, Mrs. Sophie Moukouyou-Kimbouala, announced in the evening that “legal proceedings have been initiated against Messrs. Pierre Aboya and Bonaventure Engobo, suspected of being the instigators of the shootings of Owando and Oyo .
On the morning of Thursday, June 5, 1997, agents of the Force Publique (police officers and infantrymen) equipped with armored vehicles surrounded the residence of Sassou Nguesso in Mpila to arrest Messrs Aboya and Engobo there under the arrest warrant. signed by the Attorney General of the Republic, near the Supreme Court, Mr Henri Ballard.”
– FIDH REPORT, June 1999, Congo Brazzaville, L’arbitraire de l’Etat, la terreur des milices.
Engobo two bed two bath apartment is located in the Yansoon building in Old Town Dubai. Similarly, sized apartments in this building have an estimated value of nearly USD 600,000.
Engobo’s USD 600 000 two bed two bath apartment is located in the Yansoon building in Old Town DubaiTweet
Knowing that the violation of the Republic of the Congo airspace starting October 11 1997 by Angolan air force fighter jets conducted several airstrikes on President Lissouba positions within Brazzaville was a turning point of the civil war, Engobo’s ambassadorship and Dubai asset look like a war prize.
JEAN-BRUNO OBAMBI, one of Congo’s richest and well-connected entrepreneurs also has owned properties in Florida and engaged in similar ownership transfers as Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso and NATHALIE BOUMBA PEMBE.
Obambi owns Azur Telecom, which was previously owned by the now-deceased Edith Lucie Bongo Odimba Sassou NGUESSO replaced by her sisters Cendrine and Julienne Johnson Sassou Nguesso as shareholders. Azur Telecom is active across Central Africa, with operations in Gabon, CAR, and Congo.
The company has been involved in fraudulent activity in the past, when in 2014, the new majority shareholder of Monaco Télécom, French telecom mogul Xavier Niel, participated in the fraudulent refinancing of Bruno OBAMBI’s group through a partnership with Bintel and the Azur brand.
Separate from this activity, Azur’s subsidiary in Gabon has been accused of skipping on its tax payments. Now Azur Telecom – a.k.a Equatorial Telecom Congo – is owned by Bintel Group which is a Dubai-based company whose president is… Jean Bruno Obambi himself.
Until February 2021, Obambi was also listed as a director of three Cypriot companies alongside Abdo Romeo Abdo, a Lebanese businessman whose business ventures have included major construction and real estate projects in Belarus and Nepal.
In July 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported that Abdo had purchased Cypriot company MTB Investments Holdings, the majority shareholder of MTBank, from the family of Belarusian oligarch Aliaksei Aleksin, days before Aleksin was hit by EU sanctions for his alleged role in the arrest of a dissident journalist.
Abdo was also implicated in a 2007 money laundering scandal tied to Ncell, one of Nepal’s largest telecoms operators, where he continues to serve as a director.
Abdo’s telecommunications investments are not limited to Nepal. Through his Dubai-based company Stoneva Holdings, which he used to acquire MTB Investments Holdings, Abdo has also invested in telecommunications companies across Cambodia, East Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Stoneva’s website.
In Cyprus, Abdo and Obambi served together as directors of Timeturns Investments Limited, Brighteye Consultants Limited, and Metallmark Consultants Limited.
Corporate documents filed in Cyprus show that Obambi was appointed as a director of all three companies between August and October of 2019 and resigned from all three on 9 February 2021.
Obambi owned two Miami properties through his Florida company Azur USA LLC, both of which he sold in 2018 for a total of $ 840 000Tweet
According to its 2021 annual report, Timeturns Investments holds all shares Brighteye and Metallmark which each lists as its sole investment a 35% stake in Yozma Timeturns S.A., the DRC-based telecommunications company listed on Stoneva’s website. The remaining shares appear to be split between A.M. Yozma Sprl and Texixo Sprl.
Obambi owned two Miami properties through his Florida company Azur USA LLC, both of which he sold in 2018 for a total of USD 840,000. Azur USA LLC was deactivated in 2019.
Raymond Zephirin Mboulou
Raymond Zéphirin Mboulou is a Congolese politician born March 19, 1956 in Mpouya. He has been Minister of the Interior and Decentralization since December 30, 2007, and MP for Mpouya district since 1992.
He was Director of the Cabinet of President Sassou Nguesso from 2002 to 2007, then Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic and Minister of the interior since. His proximity to the President made him a real “untouchable”.
As Minister of the Interior, he illustrated himself negatively in 2014 with the xenophobic police operation “Mbata ya Bakolo” (Slap of the elders) targeting mainly nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rape of women and girls, torture, xenophobic attacks, more than 130,000 presumed foreign nationals were expelled to Kinshasa in a fortnight. A 21-year-old mother explained how six policemen entered her house at 3 am. and raped her while she was home alone with her four-year-old daughter. Amnesty International also documented the rape of four others, including a five-year-old girl.
“Operation Mbata ya Bakolo and the xenophobic attacks and behavior it caused among the general population created an environment in which DRC nationals were unable to enjoy their rights, including the rights to non-discrimination, security of person, work, adequate housing, education, and access to healthcare. It instilled fear in DRC nationals, effectively confining them to their homes, to avoid being subjected to verbal abuse and harassment by the general population; or to harassment, extortion, beatings, and arbitrary arrest by the police. As a result, many DRC nationals felt that they had no choice but to leave. The authorities said that these returns were “voluntary”, but they are in fact disguised expulsions and a violation of international law. ” – Amnesty International
This xenophobic operation conducted by Jean-François Ndenguet the chief of the police, just before the change of the constitution in 2015, aimed to carry out preventive expulsions. Indeed, the regime feared that the opposition could rely on foreign nationals for demonstrations against the change of the constitution. A practice used by Denis Sassou Nguesso himself in 1997 when he enlisted Hutu genocidal militias and ex-Zairian soldiers to constitute the staff of his Cobra militia.
A 21-year-old mother explained how six policemen entered her house at 3 am. and raped her while she was home alone with her four-year-old daughter. Amnesty International also documented the rape of four others, including a five-year-old girl. – Amnesty International about xenophobic police operation “Mbata ya Bakolo”
As Minister of the Interior, Raymond Zéphirin Mboulou launched in October 2015 just after the Burundian case, one of the first internet censorship in Africa. He regularly repeated this operation at the approach of each election as during the presidential elections of March 2016 and March 2021. He is also in charge of the elections and it is he who proclaims since 2007 the electoral results with dubious sincerity.
The Seamless Horizons data portal indicates that Zéphirin Mboulou holds five properties in DubaiTweet
The Seamless Horizons data portal indicates that Zéphirin Mboulou holds five properties in Dubai. Two of these appear to be five-bedroom villas in Arabian Ranches, the luxury residential development where Blandine Malila Lumande also allegedly owns a four-bedroom home (Available homes are currently priced anywhere between USD 1.1 to USD 1.9 million.)
Zéphirin Mboulou also appears to own a 60 square-meter apartment in Artesia Tower at Damac Hills (similar apartments are valued between roughly 800.000 AED — [ around USD 217.800] ), an apartment in Celestia Tower (similar properties are valued at between roughly 250.000 and 300.000 AED [ around USD 68.000 – 81.673] ), and a three-bedroom apartment in a luxury tower still under construction in Harbour Point Tower 2 price range between USD 1.1 to USD 2.5 million.
Jean-François Ndenguet has been the chief of police in the Congo since 1997. During the 1997 coup d’état, he was head of the “Front 300” (Moungali and the quinze-Ans plateau) in Brazzaville.
In 2004, he was arrested in France for “crimes against humanity,” but was later released the next day. Ndenguet is accused of being involved in the execution of 350 Congolese opponents. This sparked a complaint from the families of the victims, in France, investigated in the court of Meaux by judge Jean Gervillié.
Jean François Ndenguet wife Anne owns a real estate company SCI D’Ocean with here children. Jean François Ndenguet has since continued to make headlines with his police, as when in July 2019, 13 young people were killed in a Brazzaville police station.
On May 09 2014, according to company status and documents in our possession, he acquired a € 600 000 apartment in Neuilly-sur-seine near Paris through his wife and daughter’s company SCI d’OCEAN.
On May 09 2014, Ndenguet acquired a € 600 000 apartment in Neuilly-sur-seine near Paris through his wife and daughter’s company SCI d’OCEANTweet
The 600 000 € apartment was sold to him by Jean Dumonteil and his wife Olga Johnson Dumonteil a Parisian elected official and Director General of Energies for Africa founded by French former minister Jean-Louis Borloo.
The 600 000 € apartment was sold to Ndenguet by Jean Dumonteil and his wife Olga Johnson Dumonteil a Parisian elected official and Director General of Energies for Africa founded by French former minister Jean-Louis BorlooTweet
Brice-Voltaire Etou Obami
Brice Voltaire Etou-Obami has been close to the Sassou Nguesso family for some time, including Wilfrid Sassou Nguesso who is in charge of SOCOTRAM, a Congolese company accused of siphoning off Congolese oil money.
In his official capacity, he serves as the deputy auditor of the Banque Congolaise de l’Habitat and is also the managing partner of the firm Audit Conseil and chartered accountant to Exco Cacoges at the origin of an audit of the defunct national aviation company Ecair.
Etou-Obami has appeared in real estate transactions in Canada and France, including investing in buildings in Paris for a total of USD 8.3 million and purchasing a home in Montreal for a total amount of $CAD 407,118.
Etou-Obami owns a four-bedroom and four-bathroom villa in Dubai. A similarly sized home has an estimated value of $1.3 millionTweet
Furthermore, Etou-Obami owns a four-bedroom and four-bathroom villa in Dubai. A similarly sized home has an estimated value of USD 1.3 million.
In addition to the properties, Etou-Obami has two known registered companies in the United States: RANGE UNLTD INC and ATLANTIC GLOBAL IMMOBILIER LLC.
- August 15th, 1960: President Fulbert Youlou celebrating the indolence of the Republic of Congo
- March 18th, 1977: Assassination of President Marien Ngouabi. Denis Sassou Nguesso was then Minister of Defense
- February 5th, 1979: Denis Sassou Nguesso overthrows Jacques Joachim Yhomby Opango and becomes president of the People’s Republic of Congo
- August 31st, 1992: Pascal Lissouba winner of the first direct election is sworn in as President of the Republic of Congo
- July 1993: Attempted coup by Denis Sassou Nguesso with his COBRA militia in alliance with the Ninja militia of Bernard Kolelas
- June 5th, 1997: The arrest warrant for the alleged killers of Owando, Aboya, and Engobo, hidden in Denis Sassou Nguesso’s Mpila residence, triggers the civil war
- October 15th, 1997: The invasion of Pointe-Noire by the Angolan army and the aerial bombardment of the capital Brazzaville by the Angolan air force give the victory to the Cobras of Denis Sassou Nguesso
- March 10th, 2002: End of the « flexible transition » and First presidential election since the end of the civil war. Denis Sassou Nguesso is declared the winner with 89.41%
- July 12th, 2009: Second election since the end of the civil war. Sassou Nguesso was proclaimed the winner with 78.61% of the vote. According to the constitution of January 20, 2002, he entered his second and last term.
- October 25th, 2015: Official result of the Referendum for the change of the constitution of January 20, 2002: 94% of the votes in favor. Denis Sassou Nguesso can run once again to his own succession
- March 20th, 2016: First election under the new constitution. Denis Sassou Nguesso is proclaimed the winner with 60% of the votes
- April 2016 – December 2017: Opponents Jean Marie Michel Mokoko and Okombi Salissa are jailed for endangering state security; Bombing and military operation in the Pool region
- The year 2018: Political trial of Jean Marie Michel Mokoko and Okombi Salissa; The UN group of experts against arbitrary detention calls for the immediate release of Mokoko and Okombi
- March 20th, 2021: Second presidential election under the new constitution; Death of Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas on election day of the first round resulting in the de facto nullity of the ballot according to the electoral code
- March 23rd, 2021: Denis Sassou Nguesso is declared the winner of the poll with 88.40% votes
About our organizations
C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues.
C4ADS uses cutting-edge technologies to manage, integrate, and analyze disparate data from diverse languages, regions, and sources, incorporating our own field research from conflict zones and fragile states. C4ADS seeks to engage with local and international audiences and produce compelling analysis on conflict and security issues. In doing so,
C4ADS fills a critical gap left by traditional public sector and profit-driven institutions.
C4ADS provided access to its Seamless Horizons data portal, a proprietary database of corporate registry information, property records, and related datasets that includes ownership of properties in the United Arab Emirates. Inclusion in the database is not necessarily a marker of illicit activity: the database includes legal property owners in addition to potential illicit actors. As such, the mention of any individual, company, organization, or other entity in this report does not imply the violation of any law or international agreement, and should not be construed to so imply.”
Sassoufit Collective – Citizens against kleptocracy
Citizens need to know what is happening with their country’s riches, where is the money going and how they are affected by this plundering. With information, citizens will be able to take action and demand change; effectively raising the stakes of stealing public money. The collective #sassoufit investigates the Congolese kleptocracy. it maps key actors, conducts advocacy operations and works to bring democratic change.
Created in April 2014, the #Sassoufit collective is the heir to the “Sassou Dégage” initiative of April 2012; following the explosions of March 04, 2012. The #Sassoufit Collective leads the campaign against the change of the Constitution of January 20, 2002.
It launches a digital and media guerrilla campaign on a global scale to sensitize the Congolese and various international institutions on the illegality of the change of the constitution. it participates in the citizen mobilization of September 27, 2015 and October 20, 2015 repressed in blood.
it denounces with the #Keepiton coalition the internet, telephone and traffic blackout as well as massive fraud during the presidential elections.
This report is based on extensive research from open sources and C4ADS’s Seamless Horizons data platform, a proprietary database of publicly available corporate registry information, property records, and related datasets.
Inclusion in the Sandcastles dataset is not necessarily an indication of illicit activity.
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