This is “both a legal and factual anachronism,” the lawyer condemns.
Five more children of the late Gabonese president Omar Bongo Ondimba, including his eldest daughter Pascaline, have been indicted in Paris in an “improper gain” case, suspected of using properties their father “fraudulently” acquired in France.
In this new series, the number of Omar Bongo’s children, half-siblings and half-sisters of his son and successor at the head of the country, Ali Bongo, have been prosecuted in a judicial inquiry led by a Paris financial judge, at least nine.
Pascaline Bongo, 66, her father’s former chief of staff, Omar Denis Bongo Jr., 28, also the grandson of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Jeanne Matua, 38, and Joseph Matua, 40, were examined between June and July. to an AFP judicial source, confirming information from the Africa Intelligence website on Friday.
They are prosecuted for concealment, embezzlement of public funds, active and passive corruption, money laundering and misappropriation of corporate assets. French justice suspects them of this “consciously” benefited from a substantial real estate portfolio “fraudulently” collected in France by the Patriarch, President of Gabon from 1967 until his death in 2009.
The courts have recently assessed the value of these goods “at least up to 85 million euros”. For Pascaline Bongo’s lawyer, Me Corinne Dreyfus-Schmidt, in this procedure there is “legal and factual anachronism”.
According to information obtained by AFP, Pascaline Bongo told investigators in January 2020 that she owned, among other things, several apartments in central Paris purchased by her father from the 1970s to the 1990s. Very close to her father, she was chief of staff at the Palace of the Boards in Libreville, the president’s residence. Omar Denis Bongo Jr.’s lawyer, Mae Jean-Marie Vial, challenged his client’s charges with AFP “under the law”, “not morals”.
Between March and April, Paris financial judge Dominique Blanc had already indicted Grace, Betty, Arthur, then Ermina Bongo and other children of the late president. All of these 50-year-olds denied knowing about the state’s fraud. Other children, among the 54 children of France’s former historic partner in Central Africa, may have followed.
The “great wealth” of the Bongo family, according to a February decision of the Paris Court of Appeal, comes “from money obtained as a result of embezzlement of public funds and significant sums from the crime of corruption of oil companies”, in particular Elf Aquitaine today TotalEnergies. what “investigations conducted in this proceeding confirmed” in the opinion of the investigating judge.
“This whole family clan will have to answer”reacted to AFP Me William Bourdon, a lawyer for Transparency International France, a civil party to the case. “Beneficiaries, in particular the French, are fixed, which will allow a full judicial panorama”he added “everyone must measure the colossal sums involved.”
In addition to the Bongo children and BNP Paribas, at least fourteen people have been prosecuted in that investigation, which began after a complaint by an NGO in 2007, including members of President Sassou Nguesso’s family and several French nationals, including a lawyer, notary or executive civil real estate company (SCI).
“This does not concern the President of the Republic, nor any member of the President of the Republic of Gabon, so there is nothing to comment on”“, Jessie Ella Ekoga, spokesman for Gabon’s president, told AFP. “However, it appears that the media has adopted a marketing strategy to systematically link the Head of State, Ali Bongo Ondimbu, to a cause he has never cared about or heard of. This must stop.”he added.
The current head of state, Ali Bongo, enjoys immunity and therefore does not risk being prosecuted in the near future.