“It’s unacceptable that a customs official, a state functionary, can hold … almost two billion CFA francs (three million euros, $3.8 million) in a poor country,” Tiao said in a public radio broadcast.
“When I think that we are slaving away to mobilise resources in order to meet the demands of the population, it is not normal that somebody who is not an economic operator holds such a sum,” he added.
The director general of customs, Ousmane Guiro, was sacked on Monday by President Blaise Compaore after his arrest at the weekend by paramilitary police, who found almost three million euros and precious objects that he had left with a relative, according to investigators.
“This is a signal (for) good governance,” the prime minister said. “If we have cases like this one we have seen, we will be merciless.”
In a statement sent to AFP, former finance minister Zephirin Diabre, who is now in the opposition, called for the resignation of the current holder of the post, Lucien Marie Noel Bembamba, who is a brother-in-law to Compaore.
The finance ministry is in charge of the customs service.
For its part, the National Network of the Anti-Corruption Struggle (Ren-Lac), which has often placed the customs service at the head of the most corrupt institutions in the country, denounced “the lack of political will to fight corruption” and “the submission of justice to political power and the impunity granted big white-collar delinquents.”
In the first half of last year, Compaore’s regime, in power since 1987, was confronted with an unprecedented wave of social unrest and army mutinies over income. Perceived corruption was one of the targets of demonstrators.