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DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese prosecutors on Wednesday formally charged Karim Wade, the son of the West African nation's former president, with corruption and ordered him to be detained without bail, his lawyer told Reuters.

Wade, who was the most powerful figure in his father Abdoulaye Wade's government, was arrested this week on suspicion of illegally amassing $1.4 billion in assets via a network of shadowy holding companies.

"He has just been charged and will be detained," Demba Cire Bathily, Wade's lawyer, told Reuters.

The case brought has highlighted efforts by President Macky Sall, who defeated Abdoulaye Wade in a tense election last year, to crack down on corruption in the poor West African state.

Karim Wade simultaneously held the post of minister for infrastructure, international cooperation, energy and air transportation, with a total budget equivalent to one-third of state expenditure.

Wade's lawyers have accused the new administration of a political witch hunt and claim they can lawfully account for all of his assets.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn)

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