Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Swiss to return Mobutu millions

Mobutu Sese Seko

Congolese President Joseph Kabila says he is disappointed Switzerland will not return at least $1bn deposited in banks by late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Swiss Confederation President Micheline Calmy-Rey said her government is holding just $6.6m frozen in accounts.

The Swiss authorities say they will return the money held since 1997 when President Mobutu was ousted.

He died in exile not long after rebels led by President Kabila's father, Laurent, took over the country.

"We discussed the question of Mobutu's funds and my government is prepared to restore the money to the DR Congo as soon as possible," Ms Rey told reporters in the DR Congo capital, Kinshasa, after talks with Mr Kabila.

The BBC's Emory Makumeno in Kinshasa says President Kabila briefly told reporters afterwards that he had expected the Swiss to announce they would return about $1bn or even more.

The late dictator was believed to have stashed billions of dollars embezzled from the government treasury in Swiss accounts.

In 2001, items auctioned from his luxurious villa in Switzerland netted $100,000.

The late Congolese leader's son, Nzanga Mobutu, is the agriculture minister in President Kabila's government.

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