DAKAR (AFP) – The son of former Senegal leader Abdoulaye Wade woke up in a cell Tuesday after spending his first night in custody following his arrest by detectives investigating his vast fortune, valued at more than $1 billion.
Karim Wade, who held a number of cabinet posts under his father’s presidency, was detained in Dakar in the latest twist in an ongoing legal battle with the current regime over what they allege are illicit gains from his time in office.
“Karim Wade spent the night at the Colobane police station with six other people,” a source close to the case told AFP.
Local press said the other detainees were “accomplices” of Wade, including his former communications adviser, a businessman, a manager of an airport ground support company and an accountant.
The 44-year-old’s arrest on Monday evening sparked clashes between security forces and 50 of his supporters who were dispersed with tear gas outside the police station.
Wade is alleged to own a number of foreign companies including Dubai Port World, which runs the port container terminal in Senegal’s capital Dakar, Moroccan bank BCME and airport ground support company AHS.
His arrest came just hours after his legal team had filed a dossier of more than 2,000 pages in response to an order from the nation’s anti-corruption court to explain how he had come by assets allegedly worth over $1.4 billion (1.07 billion euros).
Wade, who was not present at the court, denies corruption and says his vast fortune comes legitimately from the companies he owns as well as “real estate” and bank accounts.
His lawyers have accused Alioune Ndao, the special prosecutor of the court, of “inventing” the facts in the graft case.
“The case against him is mounting but these are lies. You cannot file nearly 3,000 items of evidence then be told an hour later that they have examined all of these documents,” said Wade’s lawyer Cire Cledor Ly.
“We are caught up in the logic of a violent state which, in effect, is resolutely determined not to respect the rights of citizens,” he added.
Another of Wade’s lawyers, Demba Cire Bathily, accused the prosecutor of not even looking at the evidence and said the arrest had been scheduled in advance and was illegal.
“Among the assets attributed to him, there is even land registered in the name of the state. None of the assets attributed to Karim belong to him.”
The former ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) accuses the regime of Macky Sall, who defeated Wade’s father in presidential elections last year, of conducting a “witch hunt” against the PDS hierarchy since it came to power.
“Karim Wade is paying the price for his affiliation with Abdoulaye Wade. We believe a campaign of revenge is being carried out against the losers of March 25,” said party spokesman Baboucar Gaye.
Sall, who won a resounding victory in a March poll marred by violence over the 86-year-old Wade’s efforts to seek a third term in office, launched a number of audits into the finances of political rivals shortly after his inauguration.
Several leaders of the 2000-2012 Wade regime, including his son, have been repeatedly questioned by police and judges investigating allegations of “illegal enrichment”.
Karim Wade is also under investigation in France following a complaint by the Senegalese government over the alleged embezzlement of public funds, misuse of corporate assets and corruption, according to a judicial source.
After he was last questioned by police in November, he was banned from leaving Senegal along with six other officials from the former regime.