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Three African leaders under graft spotlight

Latest update : 2008-12-02

The presidents of Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea are being investigated in France by anti-corruption groups which accuse them of embezzling public funds to acquire luxury homes in France.

AFP  -  French anti-corruption activists Tuesday filed suit against the presidents of Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea, accusing them of acquiring luxury homes in France with embezzled public money.
The French chapter of Transparency International (TI), the non-governmental group Sherpa and a Gabonese citizen took joint action against Presidents Omar Bongo Ondimba, Denis Sassou Nguesso and Teodoro Obiang, and several of their associates, they said in a joint statement.
They accuse the African leaders of embezzlement and misuse of public funds and of money-laundering in relation to "the acquisition of very substantial property and furniture assets in France," said their lawyer, William Bourdon.
"There is no doubt that these assets could not have been acquired with the sole salaries and benefits of these heads of state, who face serious presumptions of embezzlement of public funds," the statement said.
Transparency International has filed suit twice before, in March and July this year, to denounce the Gabonese president's acquisition of luxury homes in France, sparking a wave of protests from his supporters at home.
The initial complaints also targeted President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and his Angolan counterpart Eduardo dos Santos.
Both lawsuits were dismissed by the Paris prosecutor's office, which decided not to open an investigation.
Bongo's lawyer, Francois Meyer, was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
French media, citing police reports, reported in March that Bongo and his family owned 33 properties in France, including a private hotel in Paris bought in 2007 for 18.8 million euros.
The reports sparked tensions between the two countries, with Gabon threatening to review relations with France.

Date created : 2008-12-02