According to a report by Congo public finances watchdog, over $400 million in tax advances and loans that the state mining company, Gecamines reportedly paid to the national treasury cannot be found.
State miner Gecamines holds minority stakes in several of the world’s largest copper and cobalt projects, including Glencore’s (GLEN.L) Kamoto Copper Company mine and China Molybdenum’s (603993.SS) Tenke Fungurume mine.
Gecamines presented accounts to auditors from the General Inspectorate of Finances (IGF) showing tax advances and loans to the Congolese state of more than $591 million, but only $178 million could be traced to the treasury’s accounts, according to an IGF audit report.
The report, which is dated May 31 but has not been publicly released, stated that the missing $413 million were presumed to have been misappropriated and that auditors would continue their investigations.
The report disclosed that another $175 million paid to Gecamines as a signing bonus for a copper and cobalt project could not be traced to the treasury either, and faulted the company for failing to independently evaluate the levels of mineral reserves at its joint ventures with foreign investors.
Meanwhile, Gecamines produced close to 500,000 tonnes of copper a year during its heyday in the 1980s, but it has since fallen heavily into debt and sold off its majority stakes in major mines.
Congo is Africa’s top producer of copper and the world’s leading miner of cobalt, which is used in electric car batteries.
President Felix Tshisekedi had overhauled Gecamines’ leadership, replacing the executives most closely connected to previous corruption allegations when he got into the position of leadership.