BANGUI (Reuters) - President Francois Bozize of the Central African Republic has sacked two cabinet members for using a shell company to siphon $5 million off a development loan from India, the government said on Wednesday.
Michel Koyt, Minister in Charge of the General Secretariat and Institutional Relations, and Abdallah Kadre, Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in Charge of Good Governance, were fired by presidential decree on Tuesday after being arrested last week on charges of graft, a statement from the president's office said.
"These two leading figures created a private company without state consent and after audits and investigations, it turned out to be a shell company," Justice Minister Firmin Feindiro said over state television.
He said the duo had used the company to steal some 2.5 billion CFA francs from a 16 billion CFA loan to the African country from India. The loan had been intended for the construction of a cement plant and a state urban transport company.
"Judicial proceedings have started against these two ministers for this large-scale fraud," Feindiro said, adding that 10 other people, including a former minister of state for finance, had also been arrested for their roles in the case.
Permanent replacements for the two sacked ministers have not yet been named.
The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world's least-developed nations and corruption and instability in the landlocked country, where rebel groups operate, has discouraged major investment in its gold, uranium and diamond deposits.
Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Susan Fenton