Ex-Congo public health minister accused of COVID-19 fraud

Authorities have arrested Congo’s former public health minister on allegations he misappropriated more than $1 million in funds allocated by the World Bank to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Longondo, who has maintained his innocence, was taken to the central prison of Makala following an hours-long court proceeding in Kinshasa, according to Inspector General of Finance Jules Alingeti.

It was not immediately known what specific charges Longondo faced or whether he had retained a lawyer.

The alleged acts of mismanagement came to light during investigations carried out at the Ministry of Health and the Central Bank of Congo, Alingeti said.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Longondo had sharply denied the allegations, stating that there has “never been any misappropriation of funds from Covid-19 at the Ministry of Health.”

Longondo had been appointed as health minister in 2019 and managed the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Congo prior to being replaced in April.

In 2019, police arrested another former public health minister accused of misappropriating funds. Oly Ilunga denied embezzling any funds during a previous Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo, but was sentenced to five years in prison and has vowed to appeal the verdict.


Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

source: abcnews.go.com