Douala, CAMEROON | AFP |
Four employees of a Cameroon bank have been detained on suspicion of stealing millions of euros, sources told AFP on Tuesday.
The four staff members of BICEC, a local subsidiary of French bank BPCE, have been placed in detention in the economic capital Douala after they were arrested Monday, a legal source said on condition of anonymity.
The group, which includes a former director-general of the bank who was sacked in May and a former head of accounting, are accused of “embezzlement of several billion CFA francs” over around a decade, the source added.
“Undue expenses of three billion CFA francs (4.5 million euros, $5 million) were made from 2008 and 2012 for furniture,” the source cited in one example.
A prison source in Douala added: “They are accused of forgery, complicity in forging private documents, abuse of trust and aggravated fraud.”
Jeune Afrique magazine reported that regional Central African banking commission COBAC had in March estimated the theft at more than 50 billion CFA francs (76 million euros) between 2003 and 2015.
A BICEC official declined to confirm the figures, but added that the bank had launched a lawsuit after the thefts emerged.
“It is difficult to believe such sums could have been diverted over several years unless the different bosses of the bank were in the know,” an expert at the finance ministry said.
The bank, which is 61 percent owned by BPCE, was run by four French nationals in succession at the time of the theft.
Banks and microfinance providers are routinely hit by financial scandals in Cameroon, which ranked 130th of 167 nations last year on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.
corruption as a way to silence political foes.