The Biya regime has for the fourth time given a life sentence to Lazare Essimi Menye, former minister of finance. The verdict was made public in his absence. Essimi Menye who was finance minister from 2007 to 2011 reportedly travelled to the United States of America in 2015.
Prosecuted in several cases of misappropriation of public funds, this week’s court decision was the fourth life sentence dished out to the Biya acolyte. Judges at the Special Criminal Court in Yaoundé this time around found him guilty of embezzling the sum of FCFA 9.1 billion.
The court confirmed that the former baron of the ruling CPDM crime syndicate sold a 200-hectare plot of land to his younger brother, now deceased for FCFA 27.5 million instead of FCFA 200 million from the liquidation of the Cameroon Tobacco Company (SCT). The sale took place while Essimi Menye was minister of finance.
In one of the dodgiest deals ever in Cameroon’s banking history, Essimi Menye fabricated a conglomeration involving a group of local banks, signed an agreement with the banking institutions and committed the state to inject FCFA 9 billion into the scheme. Amity Bank, one of the parties to the agreement went into liquidation two days after the government invested nearly 1.5 billion FCFA into the project.
Essimi Menye who was targeted by Operation Sparrowhawk- an operation launched by the Yaoundé regime to clean up immorality in the management of public funds, suffered a stroke. President Biya ordered his medical evacuation to the USA. He has never returned to Cameroon although his recovery had gone well.
The arrest warrant issued against him by the Special Criminal Court in Yaoundé in 2017, accusing him of complicity in the embezzlement of public funds while he was Minister of Finance, is still without any implementation.
By Chi Prudence Asong