placed under formal investigation.
A logistics powerhouse in Africa, the French company allegedly “provided discounted communications advice” in Guinea and Togo in exchange for licenses to operate container ports.
Bolloré Group, which has extensive logistics and port operations in Africa, is denying charges of corruption in a probe linked to port concessions in Guinea and Togo. Vincent Bolloré, the chief executive officer of the conglomerate, was “placed under formal investigation by a French judge,” said a BBC report.
BBC added that investigators are looking into whether the Bolloré subsidiary Havas, an advertising agency, “provided discounted communications advice to Guinean President Alpha Condé and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé during elections in 2009 and 2010. In return, the Bolloré Africa Logistics company allegedly was given licenses to operate container ports in Conakry and Lomé.”
Bolloré confirmed the investigation in a press release but said it “won the concession in Togo in 2001 long before it started to invest in Havas. In Guinea, Bolloré Group won the concession in 2011 following the failure of the winner of the tender (Bolloré Group came in second in the bidding process), which was recognized before the presidential election. Attempting to link the attribution of a port concession with communication services translates a great misunderstanding of this economic sector and economic activity in general. Bolloré Group executives welcome this opportunity to fully cooperate with the judicial authorities to restore the truth about those facts.”
The company also alleged that the “investigation is the result of a claim filed against Bolloré Group by a former employee who has been sentenced by a court to three years and nine months in prison without parole and around 10 million euros of damages to the Bolloré Group for misappropriation of assets.
“The hearing of its executives should provide the judicial authorities with useful clarification regarding these issues that have been assessed by an independent expert. This expertise led to the conclusion that these transactions fully complied with all laws and regulations,” said Bolloré.
The 195-year-old company is one of the 200 largest companies in the world and is involved in transport and logistics, communications, and electricity storage and solutions.
Bolloré operates on five continents but is particularly strong in Africa. It said Bolloré Africa Logistics “is the biggest transport and logistics operator in Africa, where it has a network without equal with 250 subsidiaries and almost 25,000 employees in 55 countries, including 46 in Africa.” It operates 16 container terminals on the continent through public-private partnerships.