A French judge has indicted billionaire businessman Vincent Bollore in a corruption investigation. It's alleged that his company undercharged election publicity work to win public contracts in Africa.
Vincent Bollore's spokesman said the businessman, one of the most powerful in France, had been charged over allegations that his firm helped two African leaders win elections so that it could later scoop up lucrative public contracts.
"Vincent Bollore has been indicted by Judge [Serge] Tournaire," Groupe Bollore said in a statement welcoming the fact that the 66-year-old would now have access to the evidence against him.
"Bollore, who continues to be presumed innocent, will now have access to this dossier whose content he had no knowledge of and will have the opportunity to answer these unfounded accusations," it added.
Bollore and two senior executives, group chief executive Gilles Alix and the head of the international division of Havas, Jean-Philippe Dorent, appeared before magistrates after they were detained and questioned on Tuesday. Bollore was allowed to leave the court after the hearing.
French newspaper Le Monde said the investigation focused on port deals in the Togolese capital, Lome, and Conakry in Guinea.
The multinational group is alleged to have used Havas, its communication and marketing subsidiary, to bolster the election campaigns of Guinean President Alpha Conde and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.
In return, the subsidiary known as Bollore Africa Logistics is alleged to have won contracts to operate shipping terminals after the leaders were elected.
The Bollore Group, which has interests in construction as well as logistics and media, said it "formally denied" any wrongdoing.
A Guinean government spokesman denied the allegations, saying they made "no sense."
rc/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)