Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cameroon:Inoni Indicted For Embezzling FCFA 1.7bn

But  he is not implicated in Albatross Affair

By Christopher Ambe 
Judicial investigations have finally found out that former Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni was not implicated in the embezzlement of FCFA 24 bn meant for the purchase of a presidential aircraft in 2004, the case that led to the sentencing of ex-minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya and Yves Michel Fotso, former director of defunct state air transport company CAMAIR, to 25 years in prison.

But  unfortunately,Ex-PM Inoni, who is also the Chief of Bakingili village in Fako Division, was last Thursday at the Special Criminal Court in Yaoundé,  indicted for embezzling elsewhere some FCFA 1.7 billion.

The Ex-PM, who will sooner or later be prosecuted, is facing a two count charge, down from the initial five-count. Of the three counts dropped, one had implicated him in what is today known in Cameroon as the Albatross Affair. But according the charge sheet, there is no element of proof implicating Chief Inoni in the embezzlement of the funds meant for the purchase of the presidential plane

The examining magistrate at the Special Criminal Court, Justice Jerome Kouabou, accused the Ex-PM, of having embezzled FCFA 287 million while serving as Board Chairman of Assets Portfolio Management (APM), a company that reportedly struck a deal with the Ministry of Transport .APM was contracted and tasked with the renting of planes for the defunct CAMIAR.

According to the Examining magistrate, the contract did not follow contract regulations in force as Chief Inoni, then also Deputy Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic, used his position unduly. It emerged that the award of the contract did not pass through a tenders’ board for scrutiny.

Also worrying was the fact that, Johnson Elongue, younger brother to former PM Inoni is said to have been holding a ten per cent stake in the Cameroon branch of APM, a situation which the examining magistrate saw as cover to defraud the state of huge sums of money.

Chief Inoni was also charged with embezzling the sum of FCFA 1,4bn, this amount representing a surplus disbursed by s SNH (National Hydrocarbons Corporation) to CAMAIR as payment of arrears for airplanes leased from Ansett Worldwide, an American company.

Chief Inoni is said to have got hold of this money, in collusion with others, because the sum was paid through the Standard Chartered Bank Cameroon where the ex-PM served as the Board Chairman
Also accused are Jean Marie Atangana Mebara and Otélé Essomba.

Mr Atangana Mebara as Secretary-general at the presidency at the time also served as Board Chairman of SNH and  Mr. Essomba was the deputy general manager of APM in Cameroon where he reportedly  had a 30 per cent share.
It would be recalled that Chief Inoni has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest on April 16 2012.

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