The discovery of enormous corruption in a large Chinese infrastructure-for-minerals project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) humiliated Beijing last week, just as it was bragging about its assistance to Africa at a meeting with African leaders in Senegal.
Millions of funds supposed to finance the $9 billion “Deal of the Century” in 2007 instead flowed into the coffers of Chinese agents and former President Joseph Kabila and his family, according to an American watchdog group and a group of journalists.
In 2007, Kabila inked a historic agreement with two massive Chinese state-owned enterprises: China Railway Group Ltd (CREC) and Sinohydro, the company that built China’s famous Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River.
The terms of the agreement were similar to those of other Chinese deals in Africa; in essence, the DRC would trade millions of tonnes of its abundant cobalt and copper deposits for billions of dollars worth of Chinese-made and desperately needed railways, hospitals, and universities, with the entire deal financed by China’s Export-Import Bank (China Exim Bank).
Most of the promised infrastructure did not materialize, according to the so-called Congo Hold-up, a massive leak of African financial documents and data.
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