French Billionaire Charged in Bribery Investigation

On Wednesday, numerous mainstream media sources reported French businessman Vincent Bolloré, Chairman and CEO of the investment group Bolloré, was charged by French investigators as part of a probe into the possible use of bribery in two African nations in order to obtain port contracts from public officials. Specifically, the investigation concentrates on suspicion of wrongdoing in the award of contracts to Bolloré S.A. to operate container terminals in Lome, Togo, and Conakary Guinea.

Bolloré’s business holdings include the global advertising agency Havas, a controlling stake in French media conglomerate Havas, and rail and port companies in Africa. Bolloré, who has built relationships with politicians and well-connected businessman in Africa Europe, has, in the past, combated scrutiny of its operations by filing litigation against journalists investigating his relationships.

Investigators from France’s financial crimes unit examined one of Havas’ subsidiaries helped facilitate the elections of the presidents of Togo (Faure Gnassingbe) and Guinea (Alpha Conde), notably, by underbilling them for advertising work. The investigation reportedly began after a tip from a former employee to law enforcement.

The investigation comes at a time when French authorities are increasing their prosecution of corruption. The judges in the case, Aude Buresi, and Serg Tournaire, are also investigating former French president Nicolas Sarkozy over allegations that former Libyan dictator Muammer Gadaffi donated €50 million to his 2007 presidential campaign. In addition authorities are probing Societe Generale S.A. over allegations of bribery related to the bank’s work with the Libyan Investment Authority.

As governments and international anti-corruption authorities globally are increasingly ramping up the investigation of bribery, money laundering, fraud, and other financial crimes, companies, fortunately, have options for business intelligence and risk mitigation. Partnering with Vcheck, a global investigations firm, can help ensure your business needs are met. This includes satisfactorily meeting domestic and international compliance regulations, identifying and avoiding troublesome business relationships, and researching investment opportunities.

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Brock Treworgy