Togo will provide information to the French inquiry into billionaire Vincent Bolloré’s Africa operations if asked to do so, Public Function Minister Gilbert Bawara said on Friday, adding Togo “has nothing to add” on the matter.
“The Togolese state has nothing to add to the dossier which is in process in France,” Bawara told Victoire FM.
“However, if … [Togo] is requested to provide information or any evidence at all, rest assured we will do so willingly.”
French industrialist Vincent Bolloré went on the offensive Sunday over the corruption charges brought against him over his business dealings in Africa, claiming the case was rooted in prejudice about the continent.
In an opinion article in French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche, the head of the Bolloré Group, who has been charged in connection with the awarding of two lucrative port concessions in West Africa, said the continent was wrongfully portrayed in France as a “land of misrule, even corruption”.
“People imagine heads of state deciding by themselves to award huge contracts to unscrupulous investors.”
Investigating magistrates last week charged the 66-year-old over allegations that his group’s communications arm undercharged the presidents of Guinea and Togo for work on their election campaigns as sweeteners for contracts to operate Conakry port and Lome port.
Defending himself against the claims, Bolloré wrote: “Who could imagine that a few hundred thousand euros in spending on communications, which were accounted for in a transparent manner … determined hundreds of millions of euros in investment in port operations that require significant technical know-how, obtained through international tenders?”
Bolloré, one of France’s most powerful businessmen, sits at the head of a sprawling business empire with revenues of €18.3 billion ($22.4 billion) in 2017 and interests in everything from construction and logistics to media, advertising and agriculture.
Africa accounts for about 20 percent of its turnover, excluding the Vivendi media group, which is controlled by the family-run Bolloré Group.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)