Published April 17, 2013
DAKAR, Senegal – Authorities charged the son of Senegal's former president with illicit enrichment Wednesday following a months-long investigation into how he amassed a fortune of more than $1.3 billion.
Karim Wade was ordered held in jail pending his trial, according to his lawyer El Hadj Amadou Sall. Police had detained the 44-year-old former government minister Monday.
Wade's lawyers have said he is being unjustly accused and vigorously deny the allegations that have long swirled around him. Authorities formally began investigating him not long after his father left office.
Abdoulaye Wade lost a presidential runoff vote in March 2012 and stepped down after 12 years in power, though his quest for a third term in his 80s prompted deadly street protests that unsettled this peaceful democracy on Africa's western coast.
The new administration of President Macky Sall has probed several officials from the Wade regime, though the investigation into Karim Wade has been the strongest blow against the ex-president.
Karim Wade's popularity had plummeted in the final years of his father's presidency as Abdoulaye Wade appeared to be grooming his son as a successor.
Senegalese derisively called Karim Wade the "Minister of the Sky and of the Earth" after his father handed him a "super ministry" with responsibility for international relations, development, infrastructure and air transport.
The post gave him control over the key sectors of the Senegalese economy. Wade's personal fortunate has been estimated at more than $1.3 billion. By comparison, Senegal's national gross domestic product was $14.29 billion, according to World Bank statistics.
"We are a country of law, and I think anyone who has had managed the public purse should be monitored by the state because it is the people's money," said Amadou Sy, a civil servant.
Youths from Wade's party have protested outside the police station where he was held, leading officers to fire tear gas earlier this week in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
Associated Press writer Mamadou Dia contributed to this report.