The Supreme State Control is likely to indict some Camair-co officials including the former and current General Managers of the airlines, for plunging the airline company into a debilitating financial mess. A team of state auditors visited Camair-Co for the first time ever late last year within a backdrop of allegations of financial improprieties persistently raised by trade unions, senior government officials, media organs, some Board members and senior management personnel of the airline company.
The allegations were centred on the claim that several billions of FCFA had been embezzled from the national carrier since it went operational on March 28, 2011.President Biya has, therefore, ordered the extension of the scope of the first-ever financial investigation at the headquarters Camair-Co in Douala.
The Post learnt that Biya ordered the Supreme State Control to expand the audit period at the airline company to cover the entire period of 2010 to the end of 2015.Initially, the mission of the audit team was limited to the period 2013-2015.
The Post has also learnt that in the wake of the new development, the auditors have a temporary office at the Camair-Co headquarters, are now asking the Finance Department for files of 2010, 2011 and 2012. It would be recalled that Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, was the Pioneer Board Chairman of the Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Camair-Co.
Initial criticisms held that the period chosen for the audit was designed to protect Yang. Either by coincidence of by design, the year 2013 when the audit was initially fixed to start, was the year when President Biya replaced Yang as Board Chairman with Edouard Akame Mfoumou (former Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence). Immediate Cause Of Audit
What appeared to have finally pushed the Presidency to order an audit of Camair-Co is a memorandum that was addressed to President Biya last year by a Board member of the airline company, Marcel René Doung (representative of the Ministry of Transport).
The three-page memorandum had cited gross financial mismanagement at the company. The then Deputy Secretary General at the Presidency, Séraphin Magloire Fouda, had summarized the memo into a two-page document dated March 30, 2015, for the attention of the Head of State. Magloire Fouda is currently Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s Office.
It was, however, this summarised copy that contained more disturbing information and more proposals than the original text that influenced President Biya last September to visa an audit of Camair-Co. Meanwhile, Fouda and Doung were reportedly part of a mafia that tried to trick President Biya into authorising the sale of the young Camair-Co to one of three airways in the Gulf, presumably for their selfish interest.
However, alleged gross mismanagement and financial improprieties at Camair-Co were exposed in their correspondences. It was disclosed, for example, that the Cameroon government had by the end of 2014, disbursed over FCFA 60 billion to the young airline company as subventions.
It was insisted upon that the money was a “pure loss to the State coffer”, or better still, that is was money “thrown through the window”, as the money was allegedly mismanaged and pilfered. Camair-Co was also said to be heavily in debt to the tune of FCFA 33.2 billion as by December 31, 2014, and was reportedly registering a monthly deficit of over FCFA 1.5 billion.
The then Deputy Secretary General at the Presidency had said Camair-Co was “effectively in state of undeclared bankruptcy”.
In a number of proposals to President Biya on the way forward for Camair-Co, Fouda, had suggested the sending of competent services to separately carry out thorough investigations at the airline company. He had proposed that the investigation of the financial record of Camair-Co be separately carried out by the Supreme State Control and by auditors from a credible and independent audit firm.
Fouda thus also urged the Head of State to block a FCFA 30-billion loan that Camair-Co was negotiating with some local financial institutions led by Ecobank, to buy four second-hand planes.
Camair-Co pushed on with the negotiation to obtain the FCFA 30-billion loan, and the loan agreement was signed last July, with the Minister of Finance representing the State of Cameroon. The General Manager of Camair-Co had even gone ahead last August and started discussions with a European company, for Camair-Co to buy the first of four second-hand planes.
But the Deputy Secretary General at the Presidency and his group, had not given up the fight to stop the project. Just when Camair-Co was about to obtain the first part of the FCFA 30 billion, Fouda played his last joker and convinced Biya to order for an audit at Camair-Co before the FCFA 30 billion loan is granted. The decision automatically suspended the FCFA 30-billion loan.