News / Africa

    Opposition Lawmakers Want Benin's President Prosecuted Over Financial Scam

    Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni, 11 Sep 2009 (file photo)
    Benin's President Thomas Yayi Boni, 11 Sep 2009 (file photo)

    Opposition lawmakers in Benin want the president to stand trial for what they say is his role in a financial scam that has swindled thousands of people.

    Nearly two-thirds of parliamentarians in Benin have signed a letter calling for President Thomas Yayi Boni to stand trial for treason and perjury because they say he is part of a massive, well-organized financial fraud that duped thousands of small investors.

    Opposition lawmaker Augustin Ahouanvoebla says Mr. Boni has so far escaped justice, but he is confident the president will ultimately have to answer for what he says are crimes associated with the firm Investment Consultancy and Computing Services.

    Court appearance

    Ahouanvoebla says the opposition wants President Boni to appear before Benin's High Court.  He says the president has used what he calls ploys and back doors to find a way out of responsibility for the scam.  The labor will be painful and the process will be slow, he says, but he is confident lawmakers will get the president to court in the end.

    Ruling-party parliamentarian Benoit Degla says President Boni has done nothing wrong.  Because the request for an indictment against the president has already been rejected by the National Assembly, Degla says critics now want to introduce a resolution calling him before the High Court.  Degla says the ruling party believes that motion will fail as well.

    Blame game

    He says the presidential majority remains calm because there is nothing the head of state can be blamed for.  Degla says opposition leaders are using poor investors who want their money back as an excuse to criticize the president.

    Investment Consultancy and Computing Services officials currently under house arrest are accused of stealing nearly $190 million in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.  The scam promised investors returns of as high as 50 percent in a classic pyramid scheme where cash from new deposits was used to pay earlier contributors, but nothing was really invested.

    Victoire Kole says he is a victim and that if the government had been doing its job, it would have known from the outset that this was a scam and could have taken steps to curb it before so many people lost so much money.  He says the government did nothing, and now illiterate people are the victims.  Kole says he invested all his savings with the company and now hopes the government will repay victims.

    There are no allegations that President Boni was personally involved in this scam.  Most of the criticism focuses on his hosting Investment Consultancy and Computing Services company officials at the presidential palace and appearing with them in promotional photographs.

    Victims

    Victims of the swindle say they believed the investments were legitimate because they saw the president, who is a former banker, alongside company chiefs.

    Government officials appointed to look into the scandal say Investment Consultancy and Computing Services established an elaborate web of deceit.  

    Pascal Koukpaki, Benin's Minister of Development, says the modus operandi of the company structure was quite subtle.  And that is why the government was not able to anticipate the crisis and quickly put a stop to it.

    President Boni has responded to the outcry over the swindle by firing his interior minister, who he says was directly involved in the scam.  But that has not placated thousands of bankrupt investors who have demonstrated in the capital demanding that his government help them get their money back.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora