Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SEMLEX offices in Brussels raided by police searching for money laundering evidence

Semlex CEO, Albert Karaziwan
Belgian police today Wednesday raided the offices of SEMLEX, a Belgian-registered biometric company that prints passports for African countries in search of evidence.

According to Reuters, a dozen police officers arrived at the offices of Mr. Albert Karaziwan, the CEO of SEMLEX, and at his home in Brussels in the early hours of the morning. 

Reports have it that the Belgian authorities are searching for evidence that could lead them to money laundering scheme for which the company has been suspected of for sometime now.

Last May, we reported that the company is under investigation by the Belgian authorities - a claim SEMLEX vehemently denied at the time, and proceeded to shrugged it off as malicious reporting in an attempt to tarnish their corporate image.

Reuters is quoting the spokesperson for the Belgian federal authorities that they "are carrying out those searches in a case of possible money laundering and corruption.

Semlex's business record on the continent is abysmal that has stretched from Guinea-Bissau to the Comoros where, in both cases, the contract for the printing of passports have ended in endless litigation and accusations leveled at the company for selling passports to non-citizens, including, it is alleged, to terrorists, inviting many African governments to distance themselves from SEMLEX.

In the Gambia where SEMLEX have tried to hold on a contract initially granted during the regime of ex-dictator Yaya Jammeh.  The contract was subsequently cancelled on the orders of Jammeh.  When Adama Barrow assumed office a year ago, SEMLEX reappeared and demanded the reinstatement of the contract.

As a result of the current investigations into the business affairs of SEMLEX, it is advisable for the Gambia to disqualify it from further consideration of the current and future contracts in The Gambia until a conclusive outcome is reached in the investigations. 

Meanwhile, civil society organizations in The Gambia are encouraged to request the Belgian authorities to share with them any of their findings that relate to SEMLEX's operations in the Gambia.  The government of Adama Barrow is also encourage to formally approach the Kingdom of Belgium to offer its cooperation by providing any information that will help them in their investigations.