The Congolese missing link

In an article entitled « Welcome to Plutocracy »(1), Kairos had described the arcana of the blue networks(2), linked to Kazakhgate but also to African playgrounds. The article explained how Didier Reynders had allied himself with the former governor of Katanga, Moïse Katumbi, but also with Belgian billionaire Georges Forrest. The latter has built a mining empire in the same area of Congo DRC.

This team was missing a « liaison officer ». But we may have found it. Indeed, on February 24, 2015, Didier Reynders appointed a new honorary consul in Goma, in the person of Robert Lévy. Who is Robert Lévy? This son of a hardware store owner is the founder of Trust Merchant Bank.

The latter is a Congolese bank set up in 2004 and whose head office is located in Lubumbashi. It became known as the bank of the mining world in Katanga. Needless to say, these elements mean that Levy, Katumbi, and Forrest come from the same region and the same business in the Congo, and therefore know each other very well.

This position of honorary consul is very important because the area is highly sensitive. It is home to reserves of strategic raw materials such as gold, diamonds and coltan. Unfortunately, it is still the scene of armed conflicts. For example, a reputedly Islamist militia, the ADF-Nalu, is still committing abuses. There is no need to mention the incident that cost the Italian ambassador and his driver their lives just recently.

How does our honorary consul behave in this context? This question was also asked by Congolese journalists, even before the appointment of our new consul. An article published in a newspaper called the Soft international dated December 4, 2009, entitled « L’affaire Robert Lévy et sa banque TMB. The article accused our consul of having taken over the building housing the Independent Electoral Commission in order to sell it to the State by pocketing 11.5 million dollars with the help of unscrupulous magistrates and at the expense of an Antwerp company.

The same newspaper will publish on March 6, 2020 another article entitled  » The scam operations of the FPI that traps developers prevent industrialization and growth.  » It denounces the misappropriation of subsidies granted by the Congolese state to real estate developers. This action was intended to bankrupt them and allow the TMB, Levy’s bank, to seize the mortgaged property with the complicity of magistrates, for a crust of bread.

This modus operandi can be found in another case in which Robert Lévy attacks a Belgian compatriot with the complicity of Congolese magistrates in order to rob him of a property. Here, the victim is particularly traumatized by losing a property in which her father is buried(3).

Each time, the banker despoils real estate by backdating the real estate registration certificates but also when applying for mortgage loans. In this case, if the debtor is the slightest bit late in repaying his loan, the bank will recover the property. In Lubumbashi alone, there are 5 to 6 known cases. 

One case, for example, involves the Mobutu family villa that was transformed into the North Kivu governorate in Goma. A henchman, a certain Vanny Bishweka, was charged with challenging the ownership of the Mobutu villa with the complicity of the judges. He got his way. But while Levy’s plan was to sell the property back to him at a low price, Bishweka changed his mind and decided to keep it. Fury of Levy, obliged to find a solution with the widow of the Marshal so that the Mobutu family can recover the property and finally sell it to Levy for 7 million dollars, putting Bishweka out of the game(4).

We see that our honorary consul is attacking powerful victims without fear of retaliation. As if he had total impunity, or as if he knew things that were so serious and important that he was not at risk! Why did Didier Reynders take the risk of appointing such a troubled character as honorary consul in such a sensitive area?

Where is the money, where does the money go?

This is where it is interesting to remember the Kairos article on the Reynders system, in which the right question is asked: where is the money, where does the money go(5)?

 » Welcome to Plutocracy  » exposes a system of international corruption. But the latter has an Achilles’ heel: getting financial flows in and out of the European area. This is where Robert Lévy’s first job becomes interesting: banker.

The bank he manages was the first bank under Congolese law to obtain the approval of the Belgian banking and financial authorities and then set up a representative office in Brussels — no wonder, Jean-Paul Servais, head of the FSMA (Financial Services and Markets Authority), was Didier Reynders’ chief of staff and is one of his close friends. Its official representative is a certain Carine Douenias with whom Robert Lévy gets along particularly well. It deals with Belgian and Dutch banks such as Citybank Nederland and ING Nederland.

However, we remember the appearance in the Libyan funds file of a Dutchman with a particularly troubled role, a certain Robert Claushuis(6). The former agent of the State Security, Nicolas Ullens, had accused him of being the person responsible for offshore companies that allowed Didier Reynders to receive secret commissions on international contracts or arms trafficking. Claushuis had also contacted Prince Laurent’s lawyers and proposed to take over the Prince’s claim on the Libyan state at a very low price.

Aren’t Robert Lévy and his bank the missing links in the Reynders system? They would allow our European commissioner to bring dubious financial flows into Belgium in complete discretion from the Congo or elsewhere.

This would explain the attitude of our honorary consul in Goma. He is aware of this little kitchen and feels that he is one of the key players in it. With sponsors of this caliber, he can afford to loot anyone he wants in the Congo! However, complaints are numerous at the Belgian Foreign Affairs, and the new minister Sophie Wilmès is labelled as belonging to the Michel clan. Will it cover up this criminal association for much longer?

There are clear signs: Jean-Claude Fontinoy, Reynders’ man of dirty work, no longer seems to be supported by the MR for his candidacy as president of the SNCB(7). The honorary consul Robert Lévy could also fall and with him many other people!

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