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Ivory Coast President Orders Investigation into Charges of Corruption in Cocoa Agencies

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has ordered an investigation of cocoa industry agencies, amid media reports that millions of dollars that were supposed to go to cocoa growers has been embezzled.

The country is the world's largest exporter of cocoa.

Reports in opposition newspapers claim that millions of dollars meant for a chocolate factory in the United States never reached it. The reports say money from Ivory Coast cocoa producers has been spent on the New York factory for at least three years, but that the factory has produced little chocolate.

In March, the London-based anti-corruption group, Global Witness, reported that cocoa financed both sides in Ivory Coast's civil war in 2002. The group said the Ivorian government diverted more than $58 million from the cocoa industry to fight rebels.

And it said the rebels themselves raised an additional $30 million a year by smuggling a proportion of the crop grown in the north of the country.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.