Burundi’s sacked central bank governor, Dieudonné Murengerantwari, has been arrested on charges of money laundering and the misappropriation of public assets.
These charges are deemed provisional at this stage, pending the outcome of investigations, according to the justice ministry. The former governor has yet to respond to the allegations.
President Évariste Ndayishimiye dismissed Murengerantwari on Sunday, just over a year after he assumed the position. This arrest comes at a time when Burundi’s economy is in dire straits, struggling with a shortage of foreign currency that has hindered the import of goods.
In recent years, Burundi has also faced intermittent fuel shortages and skyrocketing prices, exacerbating the cost of living crisis. Alarmingly, approximately 65% of the population, which amounts to 12 million people, currently live in poverty, as reported by the World Bank.
A statement from the justice ministry accuses Murengerantwari of several offences, including undermining the proper functioning of the national economy, passive corruption, money laundering, and misappropriation of public assets. While no further details were provided, Attorney General Leonard Manirakiza confirmed that the former governor would remain in custody while investigations continue.
Murengerantwari served as the central bank governor for two years before his dismissal. This position is crucial for achieving economic stability within the country. Prior to his appointment, he held the role of managing director at Burundi’s state-linked development.
A new appointment has been made within the bank’s board, and Édouard Normand Bigendako will now assume the position previously held by Mr Murengerantwari.
Regrettably, Mr Murengerantwari is the second central bank chief in Africa to encounter legal issues this year.
In a similar incident, Nigeria’s central bank governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, was temporarily suspended in June and subsequently faced allegations of unlawful possession of a shotgun and cartridges. Mr Emefiele vehemently denied these charges.