NAIROBI/MORONI (Reuters) – A programme to sell Comoros Islands citizenship to fund development resulted in thousands of passports being sold outside official channels via “mafia” networks and up to $100 million of revenues went missing, according to a report by the small Indian Ocean state’s parliament.
The report, produced by a parliamentary commission set up in June 2017 to investigate the citizenship programme, also said former presidents Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi and Ikililou Dhoinine, who were in power when the alleged abuses took place, were “suspected of the embezzlement of public funds.”
The programme was flawed from its inception and the current Comoros government should seek international help to recover the missing funds and take officials involved to court, the report concluded.
In a video posted on Facebook, Sambi rejected all accusations against him, saying they had been fabricated to discredit him. He didn’t respond to a request for further comment.
Ikililou told Reuters by telephone that he could not comment on the report as he had not read it yet. Both men have previously said they believed the scheme would help develop the country, an archipelago off the east coast of Africa.