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Designation of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Public Officials for Significant Corruption

The United States is designating the following individuals as generally ineligible for entry into the United States, due to their involvement in significant corruption:

  • Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa, the former Director General of Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN);
  • Leonard Muamba Kanda, the former Department Head of the DRC Management Authority for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Director of ICCN; and
  • Augustin Ngumbi Amuri, the Director-Coordinator of the DRC CITES Management Authority and Legal Advisor to ICCN

As public officials responsible for wildlife protection, they abused their public positions by trafficking chimpanzees, gorillas, okapi, and other protected wildlife from the DRC, primarily to the People’s Republic of China, using falsified permits, in return for bribes. Their corrupt, transnational criminal actions not only undermined rule of law and government transparency in the DRC but also long-standing wildlife conservation efforts.

Today’s action demonstrates the United States stands with those in the DRC who work to disrupt wildlife trafficking and promote accountability for corrupt public officials and transnational criminals. These designations also reaffirm the United States’ commitment to combat corruption, which harms the public interest, hampers countries’ economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of their people.

These public designations are made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023. The Department is also designating Kanda’s wife, Rose Nsele Ngokali and Wilungula’s wife, Esther Mwanga Wilungula as generally ineligible for entry into the United States.

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