French court to rule on African assets investigation


(AFP) – France’s highest court will decide next month on whether to allow an investigation into millions of euros worth of French assets of African leaders that are believed to stem from graft, it said Tuesday.

The Court of Cassation said it would announce its decision on November 9.

Transparency International (TI), a non-governmental organisation combatting corruption, has been pushing France to investigate the assets of three African heads of state since 2007.

The families of Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and deceased former Gabon leader Omar Bongo Ondimba have assets worth 160 million euros (225 million dollars) in France, TI says.

The Bongo clan alone owns around 30 luxury properties, according to the NGO.

French state prosecutors object to an investigation, and have waged a series of court battles with the NGO to prevent it.

In Tuesday’s arguments, state prosecutors said diplomatic immunity made such an investigation a non-starter, even if there were concerns about the source of the assets.