Investigators from the Central Office for Combating Corruption (CDBC) have raided six addresses related to top entrepreneur Philippe de Moerloose. That happened in a judicial investigation into bribery of Congolese officials, reports the newspaper ‘De Standaard’. The federal prosecutor’s office confirms that searches were carried out at three companies and at three private homes but will not comment further.
The federal prosecutor’s office spokesman says that the searches and the judicial investigation came, among other things, after the series of articles’ Congo hold-up’. That research by ‘De Standaard’, ‘Le Soir’ and media partners of European Investigative Collaborations revealed how De Moerloose is said to have amassed a fortune with profiteering in Congo. That would have happened by charging sky-high prices for the sale of tractors, trucks and other industrial equipment to the Congolese state.
According to ‘De Standaard’, the Belgian court is investigating two recent contracts of a company of De Moerloose with the Congolese state. More specifically, this concerns the delivery of tractors, harvesters and other heavy equipment to the Congolese Ministry of Agriculture. The contracts were concluded in 2018 and 2019 and together had a value of USD 139 million.
Sky-high profit margins
The profit margins on those contracts were unusually high, according to a survey by ‘De Standaard’ in the sector. For example, maize harvesters were purchased for $64,000 (EUR 61,500). De Moerloose then sold them to the Congolese state for 456,000 dollars.
“We can only confirm that six searches have taken place,” said federal prosecutor Eric Van Duyse. “It concerns house searches in three private homes in Walloon Brabant, two companies in Walloon Brabant and one company in Brussels. No one was arrested in the process. The investigation is being led by an investigating judge in Nivelles.”