RDC: 20 years of hard labor for chief of staff of President Félix Tshisekedi

Vital Kamerhe, chief of staff of President Félix Tshisekedi, was handed 20 years of hard labor after he was found guilty of embezzlement of $48 million. He was also sentenced to 10 years of ineligibility.

Presiding judge, Pierrot Bankenge, explained that it is not necessary to find the money in the defendant’s accounts to establish the misappropriation.

In his view, Felix Tshisekedi’s chief of staff deliberately violated the provisions of the law and the rules on the awarding of contracts and the disbursement of public funds.

The court also notes that “no doubt remains here” about the misappropriation. It found that of the $57 million disbursed to Samibo SARL, only $8.6 million was actually sent to the supplier of the prefabricated houses in Turkey.

The head of the Samibo company, Lebanese businessman Samih Jammal, the main co-defendant of Vital Kamerhe, was not able to “specify the destination of $48 million from the Treasury”. The court insisted that criminal intent is evident in relation to Vital Kamerhe and Samih Jammal and that the collusion and complicity between the two defendants is “unequivocal”.

Samih Jammal was also sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.”

The judges note that the defendants and their relatives have illicitly enriched themselves with these deals. Thus, the court ordered the confiscation of the funds contained in the bank accounts of Vital Kamerhe’s wife, daughter-in-law and cousin, as well as the real estate acquired with the misappropriated funds.

The court also decided to definitively expel Samih Jammal from the national territory after the execution of the sentence.

Vital Kamerhe’s lawyers intend to appeal.