KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s former prime minister Matata Ponyo Mapon’s parliamentary immunity was lifted on Monday, as the Senate leadership announced it had authorised a criminal investigation into allegations he misappropriated $140 million.
Congo’s public prosecutor last month accused Matata of ordering payments to people without valid claims to government compensation under a law meant to reimburse foreign businesspeople who had their properties seized in the 1970s.
The prosecutor, Jean-Paul Mukolo, said Matata personally benefited from the payments while serving as finance minister in 2011, but Mukolo did not provide evidence of this.
Matata, who served as prime minister from 2012-2016, has not responded to requests for comment about the accusations.
Senate president Modeste Bahati informed the prosecutor of the Senate leadership’s decision in a letter seen by Reuters. The investigation could lead to eventual criminal charges.
Last month, the Senate rejected a request by prosecutors to lift Matata’s immunity over allegations he misappropriated funds from a failed agriculture project.
Matata denied those allegations and said they are part of a smear campaign against him.
(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Heavens)