ABUJA, Nigeria—Civil society groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo are petitioning the country’s government to investigate millions of dollars paid by the administration of then-President Joseph Kabila to an Israeli firm associated with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The firm’s goal: to help the Central African nation escape further economic sanctions by the U.S.
Giuliani, who served as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York before becoming New York City mayor, had reportedly been negotiating a consulting deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the Israel-based firm, Mer Security and Communication System. Mer’s work involved an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign aimed at easing concerns about Kabila, whose government was facing threats of additional sanctions from the Trump administration for human rights abuses and corruption.
The Congolese petitioners are primarily asking the government to find out if a fraction of the reported $8 million paid by the Kabila administration to Mer went to “so-called consultants” acting as fronts for corrupt Congolese officials. But a potential investigation could also reveal whether or not Giuliani received payment from the conflict-torn nation through the Israeli firm to act as an intermediary between the DRC and Washington.
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