Doctors arrested over embezzlement from charity

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Niger has arrested 20 doctors suspected of embezzling funds from a charity promoting vaccination in poor countries set up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Niger’s government has made tackling corruption a priority since taking office in 2011, and last year president Mahamadou Issoufou fired two ministers suspected of illegally awarding state contracts.

The new investigation centres on $1.5 million donated between 2007 and 2010 by the GAVI Alliance, backed by the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, Unicef, donor governments and others.

The charity, which aims to improve access to immunisation in poor countries, was launched in 2000 with a $750m grant from the Gates foundation.

“Some 20 doctors and public health managers were the object of arrest warrants and therefore jailed following an investigation,” said a judge in Niamey.