The Sudanese Minister of Justice published a written order taking additional measures to address the massive market fraud that has stoked popular anger in North Darfur’s state capital, El Fasher. The minister, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, decided to form a committee that “will have a crucial role in the coming days to recover the funds taken unjustly in the Mawasir case,” according to the order. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1991, the committee will have power to execute arrest warrants, searches and seizures deemed related to the Mawasir case.
The committee is a response to the lack of prosecutions and forfeitures of private property of those involved in running the scheme. It will be headed by Justice Abdelrahman Al Yagoub and Councilor Al Hadi Ali Abdullah. Other committee members represent various security branches including the police and Central Reserve Force. The minister further decreed a freeze on the sale of real estate in El Fasher. During the freeze, a special judicial committee must review and approve the sale of any property. Dosa’s written statement follows his visit to El Fasher, where he publicly addressed citizens and officials in the meeting hall of the State Legislative Assembly.
The minister announced that the money missing in the Mawasir scam is estimated at 400 billion old Sudanese pounds (US$169 million) in 40.000 separate victim cases. The Mawasir scam was a type of pyramid-style investment fraud that is usually called a ‘Ponzi’ scheme. The scam, which unravelled before the April 2010 elections, involved agents buying goods or taking investments but providing cheques rather than cash as payment. Only some of the early investors found their cheques to be redeemable, while later investors were left with nothing.
Meanwhile, victims of the market scam have demanded that the government speed up prosecutions and compensations. Their anger has been heightened by allegations that two ruling party figures masterminded the Ponzi scheme. One of the victims, in an interview with Radio Dabanga aired on Monday, appealed to the government to compensate victims before the agricultural season in the autumn. He said that his financial situation became very difficult and that victims have not received any assistance from the authorities, despite repeated promises. He appealed to the Minister of Justice to intervene quickly in resolving the case, adding that they cannot take advantage of the growing season if they do not get back their stolen money.