Komi Koutche, a former finance minister in the West African nation of Benin, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and embezzlement of state funds.
Koutche, who served in the government of opposition leader Thomas Boni Yayi, must also pay a fine of 100 million CFA francs ($165,000) for the disappearance of state funds totaling 85 billion CFA francs, Benin’s court responsible for economic and terrorism crimes said in a ruling. The funds went missing during his tenure as director for the state-owned National Micro-Credit Fund.
The 43-year-old Koutche, who currently lives in the U.S., was sentenced in absentia.
As a member of Yayi’s Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin party, Koutche was considered a possible candidate in Benin’s 2021 presidential election. Yayi served as president from 2006 to 2016.