The question has been nagging since the revelation of their arrival on Malian soil in December 2021. Is the private company Wagner, which employs mercenaries, paid for its support for the putschist colonels? And, if so, how are the installments funded?
Even before the deployment of military forces, the men of Evgueni Prigojine, boss of the Russian company, began prospecting in the gold field, of which Mali is one of the leading producers in Africa. However, their research has so far not led to the signing of any mining contract, no mine grabbing has been carried out as in the Central African Republic. Would Wagner therefore work at a loss in Mali, leaving his interventions in the Central African Republic, Libya or Sudan to finance this deployment, considered more strategic insofar as it undermines Western influence, in particular French?
An official Malian document clearly clarified several chancelleries. Dated July 30, 2022 and “posted in error” at the end of the year, according to a Western source, the rectified budget of the National Agency for State Security (ANSE), the Malian intelligence services, indeed revealed a surge in expenditure for this structure placed under the direct authority of the President of the Republic, Assimi Goïta, and led by one of the pillars of the junta, Colonel Modibo Koné.
ANSE’s commitment authorizations, initially estimated at 2 billion CFA francs for 2022 (3 million euros), were thus reassessed during the year at 71.4 billion CFA francs (108 million euros). Payment appropriations, i.e. the limit of possible expenditure to cover commitment authorisations, set for their part at 13.7 billion CFA francs (21 million euros) have been adjusted to 103.7 billion CFA francs, i.e. a vertiginous increase of more than 135 million euros for the year 2022.
“The over-allocation of budgets to institutions or ministries that do not correspond to any public expenditure is a common practice when one wants to disguise payments”, assures a diplomatic source convinced, like two other high-ranking interlocutors, that the financing of Russian mercenaries is to be found in this budget line. A conviction reinforced by the amount of the increase which corresponds, more or less, to the contract of 6 billion CFA francs per month (just over 9 million euros), mentioned in September 2021 by the Reuters news agency , when the Malian state was still negotiating with the group of mercenaries. A sum subsequently confirmed by US General Stephen Townsend, the commander of Africom.
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