As he was sipping his coffee in the VIP room of a Paris airport, Maixent Accrombessi, 50, was arrested early this Monday, August 3, by officers of the French Central Office for the Fight against corruption and financial/tax offenses (OCLCLIF). The arrest of President Ali Bongos’s Chief of Staff that lasted more than 12 hours is linked to an open preliminary hearing July 9, 2007 for “corruption of foreign public officials” and “money laundering”. None of these accusations has anything to do with current position. Immediately notified, Mr. Accrombessi tried to actually play his diplomatic immunity. The French police, apparently in connection with the Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) rejected his claim on collateral estoppel grounds. The high Gabonese personality did not have an Order of Mission. Wrong, says a source of Financial Afrik, close to the Gabonese presidency. The high official was indeed on a mission. And, it is after having submitted all the supporting documents justifying the official nature of his travel to Paris that the Gabonese Embassy succeeded in obtaining the release of Mr Accrombessi. Such misadventure, of course, can only happen to an African official.

The case of alleged corruption, brought up to date in June by the “Tomi Case” is in fact quite a rehash from 2005, thanks to a contract between the French Company Marck specializing in the manufacture of military uniforms, and the Ministry of Interior of Gabon, for an amount of € 7 million. A transfer of 300 000 euros issued June 7, 2006 by the Marck company to a monegasque account belonging to ISCO society in Gabon, managed by the Malian Seydou Kane, presented as close relation to Maixent Accrombessi. Other transfers involving two million euros have been issued by the Marck company to an account held in Monaco by the AIKM company domiciled in Benin and managed by Maixent Accrombessi himself. Beyond the factual grounds served to the media in the classical “organized leaks”, this case is part of a long political and legal soap opera between Paris and Libreville.

From the historic $ 800 million tax adjustment that Total oil had undergone to the disclosure of President Ali Bongo’s recordings, signs of friction between the two capitals are numerous. Everything suggests that beyond the head of cabinet, it is the Seaside Palace’s tenant in question who is targetted. The real reasons lie beyond Maixent Accrombessi’s case.

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