PANDORA PAPERS: Sassou Nguesso brandishes the Lawfare to muzzle the press

Curious legal pointillism of President Sassou Nguesso via his spokesperson Thierry Moungalla on the airwaves of RFI. In addition to denying the revelations of the ICIJ, he utters threats of legal proceedings against “any person or organization” which would echo the Pandora Papers scandal.

The Congo is known, as the reporter Sans Frontières index makes clear, for the self-censorship of its press. When you are the president of a country where justice locks up journalists and activists without trial, it is indecent to come and abuse the rule of law of the French Republic and the free media to utter threats. The local correspondent of RFI / AFP was not mistaken, he headlines on fish in the Congo River. The Congolese dungeons are particularly infamous as the report of the center of actions for development specifies. 

We recall the facts: on August 28, 1998, Denis Sassou Nguesso opened a company in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven in the Caribbean. Through a tangle of front companies, this company owned the ESCOM construction group. Escom Congo was notably engaged in diamond mining with an annual turnover of € 150 million for twenty years, i.e. a total of nearly € 3 billion or around 37% of the country’s external debt. Congo’s unsustainable external debt is $ 8 billion.

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