The Russian state bank seems to have provided a $ 12 billion loan to one of Africa's poorest countries – then said the payment to the Central African Republic was an accounting error.
VTB, the second largest bank in the Kremlin, said on Wednesday that a software bug has defeated a country with obligations to do so and has granted the CAR an undrawn loan of $ 12 billion, extended to Cyprus.
"Billing forms link accounts with countries, links have stopped working and the countries have moved everywhere," said Dmitry Olyunin, Chief Financial Officer at VTB.
The initial accounts of VTB for the third quarter of 2018 showed that the bank had debt obligations from CAR – a country whose GDP is only $ 1.9 billion, worth Rbs802bn ($ 12 billion).
Surprisingly, the publication revealed Russia's growing engagement in Africa and its role in one of the worst continents of the continent.
CAR has become one of the key entry points for Russia's renewed interest in Africa, which began in December when a team of military instructors and 170 "civilian advisors" arrived in Bangui to train the CAR army and the Presidential Guard. Russia has since sent nine shipments to the capital.
The ties between the two countries increased to the detriment of France's former colonial power. President Faustin-Archange Touader is a Russian national security advisor.
In July, three Russian journalists examining the growing role of Moscow in the country were murdered by unknown invaders days after arriving in the CAR. The publication she sent shows that they are looking at the work of Evgeny Prigozhin, who is associated with the Kremlin, which, according to independent Russian media, owns Wagner, the main private military supplier of the Russian army.
Bankers in Moscow, however, said that this amount is for the World Bank, one of the least developed countries in the world, with a GDP value of less than $ 2 billion.
It contains huge deposits of diamonds, gold and uranium, but few investments have been made in a country where 80 percent of the territory is controlled by more than a dozen rebel groups.
VTB has released an updated version of its accounts on Wednesday, when CAR debt was transferred to Cyprus, where many real owners of Russian companies are registered. Other mysterious "loans" to states like the Vatican and Grenada have also disappeared.
CAR refused to receive money from Russia.