Paradis fiscaux et judiciaires

French probe ’shameful, sad’

vendredi 6 juillet 2007

French probe ’shameful, sad’

06/07/2007 07:30 - (SA)

Paris - Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso on Thursday denounced a French investigation into the origin of funds used by himself and four other African leaders to buy homes in France.

He called the probe "rather shameful and sad".

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation in mid-June after two non-governmental organisations, Sherpa and Survie, alleged that the leaders or their families used embezzled funds to buy their property in France.

The president said : "If this affair didn’t have the whiff of colonialism ... racism and provocation, it would have died on its own."

Sassou-Nguesso said : "All the leaders of the world have chateaux and palaces in France, whether they are from the Gulf, Europe, Africa."

He was speaking after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that centred on the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

The probe would look at the African leaders’ homes in Paris and on the French coast to determine who owned them.

Investigators were looking at the assets in France of Gabon’s President Omar Bongo, Sassou-Nguesso, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, President Teodoro Obiang Ngeuma of Equatorial Guinea and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Under French law, foreign heads of state were immune from prosecution, but that protection did not necessarily apply to their families.

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