A special Senegalese court has jailed Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, who was found guilty of hiding away funds in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama.
“The facts before us constitute illicit enrichment by Karim Wade,” said judge Henri Gregoire Diop as the verdict was announced. In addition to six years in jail, Wade was also ordered to pay a 138 billion CFA franc (210 million euro) fine.
Supporters in the courtroom protested the verdict for Wade, who despite the pending court verdict had been picked by the opposition Senegalese Democratic Party as its candidate for the western African nation’s next presidential election – probably in 2017.
Karim Wade had a finance career in London before returning to Senegal in 2002. He conrolled five ministries during his father’s presidency, earning himself the nickname of “minister of heaven and Earth.”
The younger Wade was a divisive figure in Senegalese politics in the run-up to the presidential election in 2012, with many believing his father – who ruled from 2000 to 2012 – was trying to line him as a successor. Karim was accused of illegally amassing about $1.4bn, but was cleared of some of the charges by a special anti-corruption court in the capital, Dakar.
Current president Macky Sall, whose victory in 2012 ended Wade senior’s rule, warned last week that he would not tolerate destabilisation attempts following the court’s decision. Sall’s government had denied Karim Wade’s claim that he had become the victim of a political witch hunt. Wade had been in custody since April 2013. In January this year, he spent four days on hunger strike to protest his detention conditions. His lawyers are expected to appeal his sentence.
One of Wade’s lawyers was arrested last week for hinting that a conviction would result in the overthrow of President Sall.
Two years into his term, Sall’s popularity has faltered amid complaints that he has not done enough to improve the lot of ordinary Senegalese.