| CONAKRY, March 8
CONAKRY, March 8 Guinea's military junta has
demanded that four former mines ministers repay more than $5
million it says they embezzled from the state, according to a
The televised accusations came less than a month after
security forces detained the former president's son, who later
publicly confessed to involvement in drug smuggling.
At the time, human rights campaigners expresSed concern at
the methods employed by the West African state's rulers, who
took power in December after the death of long-serving President
The junta's audit committee said in a interrogation of the
former mines ministers broadcast on state television on Saturday
night that Ahmed Tidiane Souare, Ousmane Sylla, Ahmed Kante and
Louceny Nabe owe around $5.3 million in total.
It claimed almost half of this amount from Souare, who
served as mines minister between 2005 and 2006 but was Prime
Minister when Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara's group seized power.
"These funds were intended for the promotion and development
of mining, and they were totally misappropriated," said Mouctar
Balde, vice-president of the committee.
"They (the ministers) have given us explanations but mostly,
they have not convinced us," he said.
The ex-ministers made no comment in the broadcast.
Mining is a major source of state revenue in the world's top
exporter of aluminium ore bauxite, and international firms such
as Rio Tinto (RIO.L), AngloGold Ashanti ANGJ. and RUSAL are
active in the sector.
Analysts say senior figures in the Conte administration used
foreign mining firms to enrich themselves, depriving the
treasury of much-needed cash. Camara's willingness to tackle
corruption is seen by industry experts as key to foreign firms'
perception of the risk of doing business in Guinea.
"A file has been handed to the Ministry of Justice and the
chief prosecutor," Balde said.
Guinea's military rulers, widely criticised for their coup,
are under pressure to restore civilian rule and have promised
polls before 2010 as well as to fight drug trafficking and
Last month Ousmane Conte, son of Guinea's late president,
said in a televised confession filmed after an all-night
interrogation that he had been part of a drug smuggling network.
Falling metals prices on world markets are expected to hit
Guinea's income as mining revenues fall.
After shipping a record 13.7 million tonnes of bauxite
exports last year, Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee -- 51
percent owned by a joint venture controlled by Alcoa (AA.N) and
Rio Tinto and accounts for 80 percent of Guinea's mining income
-- has already had to cancel some shipments in 2009.
For a FACTBOX on mining firms with operations in Guinea,
click on [ID:nLN419384].
(Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing Ralph Boulton)