Senegalese police on Monday arrested Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, on suspicion of illegally amassing some $1.4 billion during his father’s 12 years in office, his lawyers said.
Karim Wade acted as right-hand man during his father’s presidency of the poor West African state from 2000 to 2012, which was marked by major spending on infrastructure projects, including new roads and an airport.
“They brought him a summons and they forcibly took him away,” said Demba Cire Bathily, one of the lawyers for Karim Wade. “It was an arbitrary arrest.”
Monday was the deadline for Wade to present proof of his innocence after prosecutors accused him one month ago of illegally amassing the assets.
Karim Wade simultaneously held the post of minister for infrastructure, international cooperation, energy and air transportation, with a total budget equivalent to one-third of state expenditure.
“We presented 3,000 documents to prove the lawful origin of Karim’s assets,” said another of his lawyers, who asked not to be identified.
President Macky Sall, who wrested the presidency from Wade at an election in March 2012, has promised to fight corruption and embezzlement in the former French colony of 13 million people.
Special prosecutor Alioune Ndao had announced in November that Karim Wade and four former ministers were being investigated on corruption charges.
Karim Wade has been banned from leaving the country, something which the ECOWAS bloc of West African states has branded illegal.