KINSHASA (Reuters) - Tax authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have failed to account for $88 million (57.4 million pounds) in revenue from the booming mining sector, according to a representative of a global anti-corruption campaign.
Congo has attracted international firms including Freeport-McMoRan, Glencore and Randgold to mine its rich copper, cobalt and gold deposits, but remains one of the most corrupt countries on earth.
The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have paid them into the central bank, said Mack Dumba Jeremy, national coordinator in Congo for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
But he said the DGRAD tax agency had been unable to prove that the payment was made. Attempts to find the money had been going on since January, said Jeremy, who stopped short of accusing the authorities of corruption.
“DGRAD must prove that the money actually arrived in the public treasury in 2010. If they can’t then the executive committee of EITI will go to the courts in order to launch an inquiry into the whereabouts of this $88 million,” Jeremy told journalists.
EITI is an international initiative which aims to improve transparency in resource-rich countries by tallying up the amount paid by companies and how much governments say they receive.
Congo is currently a candidate to become a full member of EITI although it is unclear whether it will meet the standards required.
No one from DGRAD or the government was immediately available for comment. Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo has repeatedly promised to tackle corruption.
Matata Ponyo survived a challenge to his authority on Monday after more than 40 legislators who had previously signed a motion of censure against him withdrew their signatures.
That scuppered opposition attempts to force a vote of no confidence in the government for various alleged failings, including mismanagement of government funds.
Watchdog Transparency International ranks Congo 160th out of 176 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2012, with a score of just 21 out of 100.
Reporting by Jonny Hogg, editing by Mark Trevelyan