|05DJIBOUTI680||2005-07-18 14:52:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (C) New Minister of Finance Ali Farah Assoweh has launched
a wide-spread operation to "clean-up" his Ministry of some
"bad habits" in what appears to be a serious anti-corruption
campaign. Some directors have been suspended and a judicial
inquiry has been launched.
2. (C) The Director of Customs, Elmi Isman Yonis, has been
suspended from his position and is now in custody.
Reportedly, 92 million Djibouti Francs (approx. $520,000) are
missing from "merchandise taxes" owed by traders. It is
believed the director awarded "favors" to some well-known
traders by reducing taxes for products they legitimately owed
in exchange for a kick-back. Traders Abdoul Karim Al Gamil of
the Al-Gamil grocery chain and Mahamoud Ibrahim of the
Napoleon Bonaparte Grocery stores are the main traders from
whom the Finance Minister is seeking a payment of back taxes.
The amount is said to equal 70 million DF (approx. $395,000).
Some officials in charge of customs for the Port and Airport
were also suspended in what is being described as an effort
to dismantle a network.
3. (C) The Director of State Property, Ali Djama Abdi, has
also been removed from his position. Around 20 million DF
(approx. $113,000) are said to be missing from deals in which
public lands were sold to private entities and money was
deposited in the public treasury. The Minister of Finance
also spoke with accountants working in all Djiboutian
embassies abroad last week to remind them to respect
procedures. He reportedly warned them that impunity would no
longer exist in the Ministry of Finance. Rumors say that some
directors in public companies have been the subject of audits
by finance inspectors since this shake-up began last week.
4. (C) Comment: In a conversation with Ambassador, Director
of the International Monetary Fund's office in Djibouti,
Emmanuel Kumah, (strictly protect), who works very closely
with the Minister of Finance, confirmed removal of the
Director of Customs. Kumah said he was told by the Minister
the Customs Director was removed for "insubordination." Yet,
the Minister affirmed a long-standing irregularity in
payments from Customs to the Treasury. He told Kumah it was
now a judicial matter. Kumah also heard from other sources
about the removal of the Director of State Property. He said
that Finance inspectors had indeed been sent to both offices.
Embassy will follow-up with a more detailed investigation of
the matter. End Comment.