There is a rising new campaign against corruption and financial crime in Mali, spearheaded by the country’s Ministry of Justice, and a hundred officials have recently been questioned by the Malian courts over allegations of corruption. Among them, more than half have been imprisoned in Bamako, Mali’s capital, some of whom have been close collaborators of the country’s 74- year- old President, Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita.
"I will never interfere in court cases to influence decisions. I will not support anyone against the suspicions or accusations of the Malian ministry of justice," President Kéita recently said on the national media channel, while warning strongly his close collaborators against any fraudulent practice during the management of public affairs.
As soon as a cabinet of national unity was appointed on May 1st, following a popular uprising, the hunt for those carrying out financial crimes was announced by the Prime Minister, Dr Boubou Cissé.
Mali’s Economic and Financial Centre (EFC) is a judicial body attached to the Ministry of Justice, and is exclusively mandated to carry out legal procedures resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of alleged perpetrators of corruption and financial crime.
A few weeks after his appointment, on June 24th, Mamoudou Kassogué, Mali’s new anti-corruption prosecutor and chief of the EFC, in a press release, issued a call for witnesses who have evidence of any case of corruption.
"This information will be meticulously and objectively reviewed by our investigative services, before a potential arrest warrant is issued against the alleged perpetrators," Kassogué told reporters, adding that the measure aimed at "expanding his field of research" as well as "enhancing the effectiveness" of his work.
New Anti- Corruption Policies
When the announcement of "relentless" measures was made by the government a few months ago, the overwhelming majority of Malians remained dubious about the new judicial policy, until Bakary Togola, the wealthiest and most influential Malian farmer was arrested, and placed in pre-trial detention on September 13th, along with several of his associates. He was accused of being at the heart of a system of corruption whose ramifications could extend into the political sphere.
Specifically accused of "misappropriating the rebates of the Mali’s Confederation of Cotton Producers’ Cooperative Companies", the incarceration of the country’s top farmer and his alleged accomplices, has been widely covered by the national and international press. Also, the event aroused strong hopes among Malians that the fight against corruption was being taken seriously by the country’s government.
On September 26th, the directors of Mali International Airport and the National Power Centre, as well as several of their colleagues, were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention by the judicial authorities for a series of misappropriations of public funds.
On October 22th, the Mayor of Bamako and vice-president of the largest Malian political party, Adama Sangaré, was arrested and went to prison over a graft case. For nearly a decade, thousands of complaints had been lodged against him, especially over land cases, but none of the plaintiffs had so far managed to bring him to court. According to the former Malian Minister of Justice, Mohamed Ali Bathily, more than 5,000 complaints were lodged against the Bamako mayor since he took office.
On October 23, 2019, the former Malian Prime Minister, Souméilou Boubeye Maïga, was questioned by the courts over cases of "illegal procurements" and "overbillings" when he was in office. He was questioned following an investigative report from the EFC.
On October 31st, the director of the Malian Agency for the Development of Industrial Areas (MADIA), Makoye Cissoko, was also detained in the women's penitentiary centre of Bollé, in the outskirts of Bamako. She was arrested by the judicial investigation services, following several complaints filed against her for cases of embezzlement and fraud.
In early November, about a dozen Malian medical chiefs from different healthcare centres were questioned by the courts, over cases of misappropriation of medical materials, as well as medicines intended for patients.
Since the outbreak of this unprecedented storm against corruption and financial crime in Mali, the policy has been overwhelmingly applauded by opposition forces, as well as civil society. The crusade, announced to be "implacable" by the government, is strongly supported and is encouraged by national public opinion.
Corruption had reached such a high level in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, that many national and international experts have recently come to the conclusion that the phenomenon is curbing its national development. And budgetary resources, as well as official foreign aid to support public development are often misappropriated without any traceability. This has long contributed to pushing Mali into underdevelopment to the point of losing the trust of some of its financial partners.
"The absence of vigorous and effective law enforcement measures has long paved the way for all forms of corruption in Mali. The new penal provisions now committed by the government against the authors of financial crime, aim at putting an end to the fraudulent practices that are undeniably prejudicial to the public finance", said Dr Coulibaly, Malian Minister of Justice.