Vincent Bollore (pictured), former chairman of media company Vivendi and French billionaire, has been detained after being suspected of corruption in Africa, according to multiple media reports. This comes shortly after he stepped down as Vivendi's chairman, while the board appointed Yannick Bollore to replace him.
According to a press statement, a Bollore Group subsidiary is currently being investigated regarding the payment of provisions for communication services in Guinea and Togo in 2009 and 2010. Multiple media reports stated that Havas is alleged to have offered communications advice at a discounted price, thus aiding the elections of presidents Alpha Conde in Guinea and Faure Gnassingbe in Togo.
Bollore was the main shareholder for Havas during the time of the events, before Vivendi offered £2.3 billion for Bollore Group's 60% stake in the network last year.
The group, however, reaffirmed that the communication services were conducted in "full transparency". It added in the press statement that Havas has shared its expertise in communications to political campaigns worldwide in "full compliance" with the law, as well as regulation and transparency standards.
"The hearing of its executives should provide the judicial authorities with useful clarification regarding these issues that have been assessed by an independent expert. This expertise led to the conclusion that these transactions fully complied with all laws and regulations," the statement said, adding that the group's executives "welcome the opportunity to fully cooperate" with judicial authorities to shed light on the truth.
"Bollore Group won the concession in Togo in 2001 long before it started to invest in Havas. In Guinea, Bolloré Group won the concession in 2011 following the failure of the winner of the tender (Bolloré Group came in second in the bidding process) which was recognised before the presidential election," the group said.
"Attempting to link the attribution of a port concession with communication services translates a great misunderstanding of this economic sector and economic activity in general," it added.
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