Congo Siasa

The Congo and Hezbollah

Just when you thought the US didn’t care about the Congo (see last post), the US Treasury has named a prominent Kinshasa company as part of a financial network channeling funds to Hezbollah. They have placed Congo Futur, a company involved in manufacturing, trade and real estate throughout the Congo, on a list of Special Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) for being a “cover company” for Hezbollah supporters. This should lead to the blocking of the company’s assets in the United States and forbid American entities from doing business with them.

According to the Treasury Department press release, which has received quite a bit of coverage in Kinshasa, the owners of Congo Futur have been substantial financial backers of Hezbollah. Ali Tajideen and Husayn Tajideen, both of whom apparently reside in the Gambia, are the newly named alleged supporters of Hezbollah. Kassim Tajideen, their brother, is the one cited on the list as the owner of Congo Futur, based in downtown Kinshasa. He has been on the SDGT list since May 2009.

Congo Futur has responded denying that the Tajideen brothers are shareholders in their business and saying that they have never been involved in money laundering. Nonetheless, their website names their founder as Ahmed Tajideen.

Congo Futur has been in Kinshasa since 1997 (not 2007 as the Treasury Department statement says) and is one of the largest business conglomerates in the country. They have factories that make plastics, oxygen, biscuits and construction materials, as well as a sawmill and several large real estate holdings. They are currently building a fourteen story apartment building in downtown Kinshasa.

There have been persistent allegations over the years, albeit unsubstantiated, that Congo Futur is linked to Kabila’s family and their rapid expansion into real estate and other ventures has benefited from this political cover. There have also been a bunch of allegations, made by think tanks and online newspapers, linking Congo Futur to the uranium trade and Iran. It makes for strange reading, especially as another close friend of the government is Dan Gertler, who has been linked with rightest parties and settlers in Israel.