According to recent reports, French authorities are investigating one of Gabon President Ali Bongo’s closest political advisors, Maixent Accrombessi, in relation to an alleged bribe which Accrombessi accepted from French firm Marck.
It is alleged that Marck’s chairman, Philippi Belin, who has been placed under formal investigation, paid Accrombessi a bribe in relation to Gabon’s awarding of a contract in 2005.
Marck is principally involved in the manufacture of military uniforms.
The investigation brings the ‘la Francafrique’ arrangement between France and Gabon into the spotlight. In terms of this arrangement, France offered Gabon (amongst other former French colonies) military and political support, in exchange for commercial support and favours. However, this investigation comes at a time when France is already investigating President Bongo’s family assets and is sure to raise some tension between the two nations as the Gabon presidency has already stated that the investigation into Accrombessi is an attempt to humiliate Accrombessi. To date, however, Accrombessi has not publicly denied the allegations, but only that he is willing to cooperate with the French officials, provided Gabon’s sovereignty and his own rights are protected.