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Cameroon: Trial of two French bankers underway

Two former General Managers of the Cameroon International Bank for Savings and Credit, (Banque international du Cameroun pour l’epargne et…

Two former General Managers of the Cameroon International Bank for Savings and Credit, (Banque international du Cameroun pour l’epargne et le credit), BICEC who have been on the run were supposed to appear at the Wouri Chief Magistrate court in Douala on July 20 to answer charges of a 50 billion FCFA fraud scandal.

This is thanks to an international arrest warrant issued in May 2017 when Pascal Rebillard and Pierre Mahe former General Managers of the Centre-South-East region of BICEC were summoned to appear but they were nowhere to be found. As at that date, only Innocent Ondoa Nkou, a Cameroonian who was the Assistant General Manager when the alleged fraud is said to have been perpetrated showed up in court during that first hearing. While Ondoa answered present as the only senior officer among the accused Samuel Ngando Mbongue, the then head of the accounting department just like the expatriates was also said to be on the run.

Pascal Rebillard and Pierre Mahe both of French nationality headed the bank from 2008 to 2012; and from 2012 to 2915, respectively before the fraud racket was uncovered after an in-depth audit report was made public.   According to Media reports, it was after the audit carried out in 2015 that the discrepancies that showed a 50 billion FCFA unexplicable deficit were unveiled. The board of directors, after a meeting on April 21, 2016  took the matter to court which led to the arrest and detention of not less than ten senior staff of the bank all of them of Cameroonian nationality; including Innocent Nkou while  the chief accounting officer, Samuel Ngando Mbongue was said to have fled the country.

The board immediately designated Isabelle Kondo to take over as the new chief accounting officer.  Meanwhile, Pascal Rebillard and Pierre Mahe who fled to their home country, France,  could not easily be reached to be issued their arrest warrants before the first hearing of the case last April. It was the issuance of the international arrest warrant last May, 2017 we learnt that the duo is appearing at the  Wouri senior magistrate court to answer to their charges for the first time.

During the previous hearing, Innocent Nkou told the court that he was merely used as a cover by the two expatriates who Nkou claims were the actual perpetrators of the alleged 50 billion FCFA fraud. Many Cameroonians believe in Ondoa and are confident that it was the French men who master minded the alleged fraud and could not be left off the hook while only Cameroonian nationals are condemned and punished. The hearing yesterday, Thursday July 20, 2017 is therefore decisive as many Cameroonians, especially customers of BICEC are waiting to see the outcome.

This reporter learnt that the fraud was master minded over a period of 12 years during which Pascal Rebillard and Pierre Mahe were at the helm of the Centre-South-East region sector of BICEC.   Since the fraud was unveiled, and following fears expressed by customers, the new management led by Alain Ripert took stringent measures to restore customers’ confidence in his institution, we further learnt. Ripert  is also said to be the person strongly behind the case seeking justice for BICEC.

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