Gabon: the son of Ali Bongo and relatives of the deposed president imprisoned for “high treason” and “active corruption”

Three weeks after the coup that overthrew Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba, one of his sons and people close to the ousted president's cabinet were indicted and imprisoned for "high treason" and "active corruption

Gabon: the son of Ali Bongo and relatives of the deposed president imprisoned for “high treason” and “active corruption”

Three weeks after the coup that overthrew Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba, one of his sons and people close to the ousted president's cabinet were indicted and imprisoned for "high treason" and "active corruption." . Libreville prosecutor André-Patrick Roponat announced Wednesday September 20 to AFP that Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Ali Bongo's eldest son, Jessye Ella Ekogha, the former presidential spokesperson, as well as four other people have “were indicted on Tuesday and placed in pre-trial detention.”

“All the charges at the time of their arrests were retained for their indictments,” specified Mr. Roponat, namely “high treason against state institutions, massive embezzlement of public funds, international financial embezzlement in a gang organized, forgery and use of forgery, falsification of the signature of the President of the Republic, active corruption, drug trafficking.”

On August 30, less than an hour after the announcement in the middle of the night of the re-election of Ali Bongo, in power since 2009 and accused of massive fraud, the military, led by General Brice Oligui Nguema, overthrew him, notably accusing his regime of “massive embezzlement” of public funds.

Trunks and suitcases overflowing with banknotes

The same day of the coup, the military arrested one of the sons of the deposed head of state, as well as five other young senior officials in the cabinet of the ex-president and his wife Sylvia Bongo Valentin. The searches at their homes, broadcast extensively by state television, showed them at the feet of trunks, suitcases and bags overflowing with wads of bank notes.

Ms. Bongo Valentin is under house arrest in Libreville “for her protection” according to the presidency, “arbitrarily detained” according to her lawyers. Ali Bongo, first placed under house arrest in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, for a few days following the putsch, is "free to move" and can "go abroad", announced General Oligui on September 6.

On September 13, General Brice Oligui Nguema, designated transitional president, announced a commission of inquiry into public procurement to track down “fraud.”

After the putsch, the former aide-de-camp of Omar Bongo, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for more than forty years, immediately summoned the bosses practicing "overbilling" against kickbacks paid to senior officials of the deposed power to “stop these maneuvers” in public procurement, during a threatening speech in front of 200 to 300 Gabonese business leaders “summoned” to the presidency.

“Ill-gotten gains”

A few days later, he publicly reprimanded hundreds of senior civil servants and public sector executives: “Come and return the embezzled funds yourself within 48 hours, otherwise we will come and get you and you will see the difference,” he declared.

Following an NGO complaint in 2007, Parisian anti-corruption judges looked into suspicions of embezzlement of public funds which had notably enabled the Bongo family to acquire considerable assets in France.

Several members of the Bongo family, from Omar the late father to Ali the son, including other relatives, notably his daughter Pascaline, are suspected of having benefited from significant real estate assets "fraudulently" acquired and valued by justice “at 85 million euros”. Nine children of Omar Bongo are indicted in France, in particular for concealment of embezzlement of public funds as part of the investigation into “ill-gotten gains”.

Gabon, ruled by the Bongo family since 1967, where Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar upon his death in 2009, is often denounced for the extent of the corruption practiced there. In 2022, the country is ranked 136th out of 180 for the perception of corruption by the NGO Transparency International.