The businessman Vincent Bolloré and executives of his group were placed in custody Tuesday morning in Nanterre, justice investigating suspicions of corruption surrounding the obtaining by his group of port concessions in West Africa .
The 66-year-old Breton billionaire, still in command of the Bolloré group but who recently handed over the reins of Vivendi to his son Yannick, had been heard since 10:00 in the premises of the anti-corruption police, sources told AFP confirming, confirming an information of the World.
Investigating judges try to determine whether the Bolloré group has used the political consulting activities of its subsidiary Havas to be given the management of the ports of Lomé, Togo, and Conakry, in Guinea, via another of its subsidiaries , Bolloré Africa Logistics, formerly known as SDV.
The head of the international division of Havas, Jean-Philippe Dorent, and Gilles Alix, general manager of the Bolloré group, have also been placed in custody, said a judicial source.
In a statement, the Bolloré group „formally“ denied having committed irregularities in Africa.
„The link that attempts to be made by some between obtaining these concessions and communication operations is devoid of any economic foundation and reveals a heavy lack of knowledge of this industry,“ he said.
The announcement of this custody has plunged the action of the Bolloré group on the Paris Stock Exchange: the stock has closed down more than 6%.
At the heart of the investigation, initiated in particular by the complaints of a former French-Spanish partner of Bolloré, Jacques Dupuydauby, are the tips lavished in 2010 by Havas during the successful presidential campaigns of Alpha Condé in Guinea and Faure Gnassingbé in Togo. Both had recourse to Havas‘ consulting activities, led by Mr Dorent.
In Guinea, SDV had managed the port of Conakry a few months after the election of Mr. Condé at the end of 2010. And in Togo, the subsidiary won the contract shortly before the re-election in 2010 of Mr. Gnassingbé, in power since 2005. .
– „I favor friends“ –
„The concessions obtained in Togo were made in 2001, well before the group’s entry into Havas, and in Guinea, in 2011, following the failure of No. 1 (the group having come second in this call for tenders), a failure noted before the election of the president „, argued the Bolloré group in its statement.
„Bolloré fulfilled all the conditions of call for tenders.I am a friend, I privilege the friends.And then?“, Had explained Alpha Condé to the newspaper Le Monde in 2016, about this file.
A search was carried out in April 2016 at the Bolloré Tower in Puteaux, near Paris, which is the headquarters of the Bolloré Africa Logistics subsidiary, particularly in the offices of Vincent Bolloré himself.
It is by investigating the relations of Francis Perez, president of the Pefaco group, a company specializing in hospitality and games and very established in Africa, that the investigators were led to look into the African activities of Vincent Bolloré.
Francis Perez counted among his relationships Jean-Philippe Dorent.
In each case, the designation of SDV gave rise to a legal battle between the Bolloré group and the former port managers.
Regarding the port of Lome, Jacques Dupuydauby accuses the Togolese presidency of being corrupted by the French group. The former partner of Mr. Bolloré said Tuesday, in a statement to AFP, „rejoice to see these instructions progress“. His two complaints, one in April 2012 for „extortion“ and the other in April 2013 for „trading in influence“ and „corruption“, are also investigated by Justice Tournaire, according to his lawyer, Sarah Maugier Polak.
In his legal battle with the Breton industrialist, Jacques Dupuydauby was however sentenced in Spain to 3 years and nine months in prison for „misappropriation of assets“ of the Bolloré group. The Paris Court of Appeal is due to re-examine the extradition request for Madrid on 16 May.
As for Conakry, Bolloré had lost his battle in the Nanterre court against Necotrans, the former concessionaire, and was sentenced in 2013 to pay him more than 2 million euros. In June 2017, Necotrans, logistics specialist in Africa, was placed in receivership and soon bought by the Bolloré group.
mch-bl-kap-pid / tmo / bw