Son of ex-Senegalese president held in probe of US$1b assets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 2:28am


The flamboyant "super minister" son of former Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade was detained in Dakar as police investigated his assets, valued at more than US$1 billion, his lawyer said.

Karim Wade, who held a number of cabinet posts under his father's presidency, has been locked in legal battles with the current regime over his formidable wealth, alleged to be illicit gains from his time in office.

Wade, who was arrested in his Dakar home on Monday, was "placed in custody at the request of the prosecution", said one of his lawyers, Demba Cire Bathily.

Wade is alleged to own a number of foreign firms including Dubai Port World, which runs the port container terminal in Senegal's capital Dakar, Moroccan bank BCME and airport ground support company AHS.

His arrest came just hours after his legal team had filed a dossier of more than 2,000 pages in response to an order from the nation's anti-corruption court to explain how he had come by assets allegedly valued at more than US$1.4 billion.

Wade, who was not present at the court, denied the allegations and said his vast fortune came legitimately from the firms he owned as well as real estate and bank accounts.

His lawyers have accused special prosecutor Alioune Ndao of "inventing" the facts in the graft case.

"The regime is testing our resolve but the law is on our side," one of Wade's lawyers said.

The former ruling Senegalese Democratic Party accuses the regime of Macky Sall, who defeated Wade's father in presidential elections last year, of conducting a "witch hunt" against the party's hierarchy since the new government came to power.

Sall, who won a resounding victory in a March poll marred by violence over the 86-year-old's efforts to seek a third term in office, launched a number of audits into the finances of political rivals shortly after his inauguration.