- Angola - corruption - France - oil
The ‘Angolagate’ trial, a major controversy concerning an arms racket involving the Angolan regime and more than 40 French personalities, started in Paris on Monday.
At 1:30 pm, 42 people were brought to court, among them several French political figures. They are suspected of arms trafficking to Angola between 1993 and 1998.
Pierre Falcone is accused of masterminding the arms deals. The first to answer the judge’s questions, he looks at him right in the eye. The two men are less than two metres apart. The accused gives his personal details: “Pierre Falcone, born in Algiers, Angolan resident.” He then states his fiscal status: €4 million in income per year, plus a property portfolio worth €15 million. Finally, his nationalities: “French, Angolan, with a Brazilian identity card.”
Like Falcone, Gaydamak is accused of having sold an arsenal worth $790 million to Angola while the civil war raged there. The arms were bought in the former Eastern Bloc without clearance from the French government. In Gaydamak’s absence, Judge Jean-Baptiste Parlos must speak in his stead. With acerbic humour, he states the three birthdates, two names and five known nationalities of the accused.
After the parading of several unknowns, the star attraction’s hour has come: Jean-Christophe Mitterand, the eldest son of the late French president.
The broad-shouldered man is so soft-spoken that his voice is barely audible. “Born 1946. I reside at my mother’s, rue de Breteuil. No income, no assets.” He probably knows the press watches his case hungrily. He is suspected of taking bribes from Falcone, and risks up to five years in prison for conspiring with an illicit arms enterprise and misuse of company funds.
Swiftly behind him is bestselling author Paul-Loup Sulitzer, who declares a €62,000 annual income, adding cynically: “It used to be much higher.”
Eventually, Jacques Attali (a FRANCE 24 columnist) takes the stand. “€1.2 million this year, one house, one apartment, studios and about €500,000 in personal property.” The former advisor to François Mitterand, who recently drafted an economic growth plan for the French presidency, is suspected of having used his influence to help Falcone’s company escape fines. He risks up to five years in prison for “passive complicity”.
After these celebrities, five unknown women are called before the judge, provoking a curious contrast. They used to work as hostesses for the companies involved in the scandal – some of them did it as a student job. They seem not to understand why they are there. The judge tells them they are accused of receiving misused company funds.