Paris, June 30, 2022 – The NGOs Sherpa and Anticor announce joining as civil parties the Bolloré case concerning alleged corruption in Togo. The hearing scheduled for this morning before the investigating chamber has been postponed to 10 November.
In 2013, a judicial investigation was opened against entities of the French group, suspected of having financed the re-election of the president of Togo Faure Gnassingbé, whose family has monopolized power for more than fifty years, via a subsidiary of the group, which allegedly under-invoiced its services. In exchange, the African leader allegedly allowed Vincent Bolloré to obtain the concession of the port of Lomé, the only deep-water port on the West African coast.
Tried on February 26, 2021 before the judicial court in Paris, the three men admitted the charges against them. They pleaded guilty to active corruption of a foreign public official and complicity in breach of trust in Togo, and agreed to pay a fine of 375,000 euros each. However, this procedure, negotiated upstream with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, with the aim of avoiding a public trial, was rejected by the Paris judicial court, which considered that the facts were too severe.
For these same facts, the firm Bolloré SE was able to benefit from a negotiated legal procedure through the conclusion of a Public Interest Judicial Agreement (CJIP). The agreement imposed 12 million euros fine. However, such procedure allows the company to escape significant sanctions among which: exclusion from public procurement.
By taking part in this judicial procedure , Sherpa and Anticor aim at strongly emphasize the importance of public debates in corruption cases, and to alert on the dangers and abuses of all forms of negotiated justice which have expanded recently. It is indeed essential that major cases of international corruption be judged by a court of law in conditions that allow the greatest number of people to have access as well as exposing these practices that remain the greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world (1).
The NGOs also wish to alert French citizens to the risk that these practices, which are well established abroad, may also be deployed in France. Indeed, the disguised financing of electoral campaigns through the intermediary of media or communication consultants is likely to distort the democratic game by deploying considerable means in order to influence public opinion in favor of a candidate.