Wednesday, September 30, 2015 9:07 am
French judges have ordered the seizure of properties tied to the family of Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso in an investigation over suspected ill-gotten wealth, a source at the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
Congo’s long-ruling leader Sassou Nguesso, is among a number of African leaders targeted by a long-running French investigation into suspected ill-gotten wealth in France.
“The seizures were carried out after a thorough financial investigation that established a direct link with several members of Sassou Nguesso’s family,” the source told Reuters.
A lawyer for Sassou Nguesso was not available to comment.
The French investigation, which began in 2008, also targeted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and Omar Bongo, Gabon’s then-president and the father of President Ali Ben Bongo.
The presidents deny any wrongdoing.
Sassou Nguesso, 71, who has ruled oil-producing Congo for 32 years in two separate spells in office, told the French courts in 2013 not to intervene in Congo’s internal affairs.
When the probe of the assets began two years ago, Police came up across around 20 luxury properties belonging to the Sassou-Nguesso family in the most chic of Paris districts.
The son, for example, spent eight million euros on renovating a Parisian flat and a mansion in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the western suburb, in the style of “Napoleon Empire”.
Investigators were surprised to discover that Mr Sassou-Nguesso spent 1.18 million euros between 2005 and 2011 on shirts and suits at the Pape boutique in Paris’ select 7th arrondissement. He paid via wire transfers from a Swiss bank account.
In the same period, his son, Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso forked out almost 474,000 euros almost entirely on shirts.
“He changes shirts three or four times a day and boasts that he never washes them and uses them as Kleenexes,” a former aide to the presidential clan is cited as telling police by Libération newspaper.
The son, who is also director general upstream of Congo’s national petrol company, SNPC, is the proud owner of at least seven cars in Paris, including a Porsche Cayenne, a Maserati and a Bentley coupé, while another clothes bill for jewel-studded cufflinks and shirts comes to 257,000 euros.
Tens of thousands of Congolese took to the streets of the capital Brazzaville on Sunday to voice their opposition to possible constitutional changes that would allow Sassou Nguesso to extend his rule in elections next year.