Omar Bongo

Ex-Miss France accused of ill-gotten gains from Gabon strongman

International — Link

Sonia Rolland, 41, who won the Miss France title in 2000, is accused of benefiting from the ill-gotten gains of Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon, who gifted her with a major stake in a 1-million-euro apartment in Paris.

How France helped Gabon leader Bongo in 'fake birth certificate' scandal

International — Investigation

Gabonese president Ali Bongo is seeking a second term of office in elections due in August in the former French colony, where the economy is bled by rampant corruption, a legacy of his father Omar, for decades a key French ally in Africa. But the legitimacy of Ali Bongo’s rise to power in 2009, and his bid for reelection, is thrown into doubt over suspicion that his birth certificate is a fake, and that he is in fact an adopted Nigerian, for the constitution of Gabon prohibits naturalized citizens from running for the presidency. Mediapart has gained access to a document showing the French presidency has stepped into the controversy to announce the certificate is “authentic”, despite growing evidence to the contrary. Fabrice Arfi reports.

French properties of Omar Bongo's family seized by court

France — Link

A villa on the Côte d'Azur as well as a mansion in Paris were seized as part of a French judicial probe into finances of late president of Gabon.

How the Bongo's holding company preys on the Gabonese economy

International — Investigation

Mediapart has gained access to confidential documents that reveal how a handful of Gabon’s ruling Bongo clan, and Gabonese President Ali Bongo in particular, prey on almost every sector of the country’s economy via a holding company called Delta Synergie. The company, established under the late dictator Omar Bongo, has stakes in the insurance, banking and property sectors, the agroalimentary and construction industries, agriculture and raw materials, gas and oil production, wood processing, business aviation, the transport and medical sectors, and the security business. The scandal comes on top of revelations of the vast wealth, including offshore bank accounts, that Ali Bongo and his sister Pascaline have inherited from their father, and while the West African country, where a third of the population live in poverty, is gripped by a wave of strikes and protests over poor living standards. Fabrice Arfi reports.

The 'ill-gotten gains' French police found in Congo ruling clan's penthouse


In 2010, a French judicial investigation was opened into evidence that several African leaders and their families hold vast assets in France gained from embezzlement of the public funds of their countries. Among those targeted by the investigation, which was triggered by anti-corruption NGOs, is Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, head of what the World Bank classifies as one of the world’s ‘Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries’, where a quarter of children aged under five suffer from malnutrition. Mediapart has learnt of the details of a police raid on a luxury property close to Paris belonging to Nguesso’s nephew Edgard, where they found vast sums of cash, jewellery and watches and evidence that the multi-million-euro apartment is funded by an offshore company whose accounts are fed by the Congolese treasury. Fabrice Arfi reports.

High-living African heads face French fraud investigation


In what has been hailed as a "historic" ruling, France's highest Court of Appeal this month ordered that three African leaders and their entourage can now be investigated by an independant French magistrate for embezzlement and misuse of public funds in the form of their assets in France, ranging from fast cars to grand mansions.