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CONGO HOLD-UP INVESTIGATION

Everything you need to know about the Lebanese part of the Congo Hold-Up investigation

Everything you need to know about the Lebanese part of the Congo Hold-Up investigation

The “Congo Hold-up” investigation lifts the veil on some of the best kept secrets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also has a Lebanese component.

For more than six months, the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), in collaboration with some 20 NGOs and media outlets, including L’Orient-Le Jour, has been carrying out an investigation based on the largest financial data leak ever in Africa, the Congo Hold-Up, which has unveiled closely guarded secrets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) and Mediapart, an independent French online investigative journal, managed to obtain more than 3.5 million leaked confidential documents issued by the BGFIBank Group, which revealed how the bank was used to channel at least $138 million of public funds to former President Joseph Kabila’s family and associates and also pointed to illicit activities on the part of some Lebanese citizens and companies.

The bank’s Congolese subsidiary, which belongs to the clan of Joseph Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, counts among its biggest clients a complex web of companies linked to the Lebanese family of Tajeddine.

The family, which hails from Hanawei, a town in south Lebanon, has made the headlines on a number of occasions.

In Belgium, some of the family members were convicted of money laundering and fraud. In the United States, three Tajeddine brothers were blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on charges of being major financial contributors to Hezbollah.

In Congo, where the Tajeddine family is well integrated with Kabila’s clan, the family leads a major business empire, including the emblematic Congo Futur — an industrial conglomerate with a controversial reputation, blacklisted by OFAC since 2010.

The following is what the investigation revealed about Congo Futur and more generally about the Tajeddine family:

    • According to data from BGFI, there is a network of companies that is officially independent of Congo Futur, but is effectively run by the same individuals, including Ahmed Tajeddine, one of the Tajeddine brothers. With the support of the bank from 2012 to 2017, these companies were able to prosper. BGFI gave them access to the international banking system, despite US sanctions that were imposed on Congo Futur. (See our article).

    • The companies within this network also transferred more than $91 million to accounts in the United Arab Emirates belonging to Kassem Tajeddine, another member of the family who was sanctioned by the US in 2009. In 2018, he admitted before a US court to having used these accounts for money laundering. Large, suspicious transfers have also been made between these companies, involving transactions of hundreds of thousands of dollars in one-off transfers, as well as large cash deposits, without reference to any exchanged goods. (See our article).

    • The data leak also shows that more than $11 million have been transferred from BGFI to BankMed Suisse. These transfers were made from accounts belonging to companies linked to Congo Futur to an account linked to a company belonging to a group controlled by Kassem Tajeddine, despite US sanctions. The correspondent banks and some BFGI employees had sounded the alarm on several occasions, but the transfers continued between the years 2011 and 2015. (see Bankmed Suisse article·) Finally, some 7.14 million euros in European funds were paid to a company belonging to the Congo Futur network which, in turn, transferred millions of dollars to accounts controlled by Kassem Tajideen. (See our article


For more than six months, the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), in collaboration with some 20 NGOs and media outlets, including L’Orient-Le Jour, has been carrying out an investigation based on the largest financial data leak ever in Africa, the Congo Hold-Up, which has unveiled closely guarded secrets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The Platform to Protect...