Keyword: Robert Bourgi

Fillon benefactor reveals 'pressure' for his silence and why his memoirs are on hold

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Robert Bourgi. © Reuters Robert Bourgi. © Reuters

Lawyer Robert Bourgi, 72, is a veteran figure of “la Françafrique”, the once-rife secret and corrupt network of relations between successive French and despotic African governments, which included the illegal funding of French politicians and parties in return for favours and protection. His name resurfaced last month in the scandal-hit presidential election campaign of conservative candidate François Fillon, when Bourgi revealed it was he who offered Fillon two expensive tailor-made suits, raising further questions over Fillon’s probity and political independence. In this interview from Beirut, where he is sitting out the rest of the election campaign, Bourgi gave Mediapart his version of his relationship with Fillon, who he says asked him to deny being a benefactor, and lifts the lid on the murky practices in French politics. His account offers an insight into decades of political corruption.

'Monsieur Africa' details '20m-euro gifts' from despots to Chirac and Villepin

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R.Bourgi. © Reuters R.Bourgi. © Reuters

For decades he has enjoyed close personal and professional relations with French-speaking Africa's most prominent leaders, including notorious despots. Robert Bourgi (photo), dubbed ‘Monsieur Afrique' in France, is an advisor and go-between for both the French presidency and African heads of state. He created a political storm in September after publicly accusing his one-time boss, former President Jacques Chirac, along with former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, of receiving millions of euros in secret cash payments from several African leaders. Mediapart has obtained exclusive access to a statement he gave earlier this month to magistrates in which he details the cash payment claims, including an alleged lunchtime gift to Villepin of one million euros by the president of Equatorial Guinea. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.