Jan. 3 (GIN) – A newly released WikiLeaks cable portrays the late president of Gabon, Omar Bongo, sharing millions in stolen funds with French Presidents Jacque Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.
In the U.S. embassy cable, published in the Spanish newspaper El Pais, a U.S. diplomat said he was informed by a senior official at the Bank of Central African States of Bongo’s “brazen” defrauding of the bank which holds the pooled reserves of six central African countries, including Gabon, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The bank source said: “Gabonese officials used the proceeds for their own enrichment and, at Bongo’s direction, funneled funds to French political parties, including in support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy… Bongo was France’s favorite president in Africa,’ and ‘this is classic Françafrique.’
Bongo, who came to power in 1967 with French help, was the world’s longest-ruling head of state, apart from the British and Thai monarchies. His son Ali, who was said by the cable to also have “benefited from the embezzlement”, succeeded him last year.
The Bongo family faces an inquiry into the use of state funds to acquire vast assets in France, Riviera villas and fleets of luxury cars. Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog has launched the probe into shadowy relations between French leaders and African rulers. The practice is called “Francafrique.” The Bongo family has denied any wrongdoing.