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Exporting Corruption

Data - Exporting Corruption

Having the courage to speak out

A man with a smirky smile is talking on the phone while sitting on his desk. Behind him, another man is eavesdropping.

Illustration: Magdalena Michalka © Transparency International

In 2009, a director of the ministry that manages forests in DRC wrote to the country's president and prime minister exposing the large-scale theft of funds from the country’s REDD+ forest protection programme. He alleged that the secretary general of the ministry had diverted around US$38 million of REDD+ funding. But the secretary general had powerful friends, and the director was soon arrested. When his family came to Licoco (Transparency International in DRC) for help, we asked officials from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Finance Inspectorate to launch an audit.

A month later, their report confirmed the director’s claims. He was released, and the secretary general and several accomplices were dismissed. Political resistance to the investigation means that nine years on, the legal case is still ongoing. But it has already led to governance changes. Funds are now channeled through structures with stronger safeguards, and officials know they cannot steal funds.

Following strong interest in the case from media and the public, Licoco is now working with the new secretary general to increase transparency throughout the REDD+ process.