February 14, 2018 / 1:22 PM / a year ago

UK freezes 580,000 pounds in assets under Congo sanctions

DAKAR (Reuters) - The British government said it has frozen 580,000 pounds in assets held by several dozen militia leaders, army officers and private organisations with ties to Democratic Republic of Congo.

The freezes were mandated by the European Union as part of a sanctions regime imposed by the United Nations. Economic Secretary John Glen had written on the UK parliament website in response to an MP’s question that the total sum seized was 580 million pounds before his office corrected the figure later on Wednesday. Glen provided no details of the assets themselves.

Leaders of Congo’s dozens of militia groups, government officials and military officers have long enriched themselves by trafficking minerals, imposing illegal taxes and stealing public funds, according to the government and various experts.

The asset freezes apply to individuals and groups, including warlords convicted by the International Criminal Court, a Congolese general who was convicted of rape, a gold trading company in neighbouring Uganda and two now-defunct Congolese airline companies.

Glen said the data covered the period from the sanctions’ adoption in 2005 up until Sept. 30, 2016. That was before the EU imposed sanctions in late 2016 and in 2017 on 15 state officials and a militia leader.

Those sanctions were imposed over alleged human rights abuses and delays replacing President Kabila, whose official mandate ran out in December 2016 but has failed to organise new elections to replace him.

(This version of the story officially corrects sum of assets frozen to 580,000 pounds from 580 million pounds, following correction by Glen’s office.)

Reporting By Aaron Ross, editing by Edward McAllister, Larry King

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