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Benin Reimburses 69,000 Defrauded Ponzi-Scheme Investors

Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi
Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi. Photographer: Adriano Machado/Bloomberg

Benin repaid 69,000 people who lost money in an investment scheme that collapsed last year as President Thomas Boni Yayi sought to fulfil a promise made during a contentious election campaign.

The investors got 10.1 billion CFA francs ($21.5 million) between September and this month, said Severine Lawson, a lawyer and head of a committee set up to deal with issues arising from the scheme, known as ICC Services.

Boni Yayi, who was elected to a second term in office March 13, pledged during the campaign and in a speech made when he took the oath of office to see investors paid back. An estimated 150,000 depositors were defrauded of the equivalent of 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The committee reached a deal with lawyers representing ICC Services, which had an office in the commercial capital, Cotonou, until the scheme collapsed in June 2010, to sell 70 buildings and 100 vehicles to pay back more investors, Lawson said in a statement on state-owned Office de Radiodiffusion et Television du Benin on May 21.

“They all will be reimbursed,” he said.

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