French Logistics Magnate Faces Corruption Charges
French businessman Vincent Bollore has been charged in connection with an alleged bribery scheme involving container terminals in Togo and Guinea. Investigators in France suspect that his firm, Bollore SA, offered communications consulting services to African politicians' campaigns in exchange for lucrative port leases.
The allegations, according to a report published by Bloomberg, center on services provided by former Bollore subsidiary Havas to the presidents of Guinea and Togo. Havas allegedly gave Guinea president Alpha Conde and Togo president Faure Gnassingbe discounted rates on consulting to support their candidacies. After Conde was elected, he ordered the previous port operator at Conakry, Guinea evicted, then handed the concession to Bollore SA. The government of Guinea has denied accusations of impropriety.
In connection with these allegations, Vincent Bollore has been charged for corruption of a foreign official and forgery. Two of his executives have also been charged in the case. In a statement, the Bollore Group denied the charges and noted that all three men remain presumed innocent as the investigation proceeds. Now that Bollore has been charged, his legal team will have access to the investigators' case files and will be able to respond.
Bollore's firm has extensive reach in West Africa: it operates 15 port concessions between Mauritania and Congo, including a bustling terminal at Lagos, Nigeria. While his roots are in the paper, energy and logistics businesses, he is best known in France as the largest shareholder of the entertainment conglomerate Vivendi, which is the current owner of Havas Group.