Home Africa Gabon’s Former First Lady Charged with Financial Crimes

Gabon’s Former First Lady Charged with Financial Crimes

gabons former first lady charged with financial crimes
gabons former first lady charged with financial crimes
Share this News

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the spouse of the deposed Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been formally accused of “money laundering” and other related offences, according to the public prosecutor’s statement released on Friday. This development comes one month after a coup led to the removal of her husband from power.

The charges against Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, who holds Franco-Gabonese citizenship, extend to one of the couple’s sons, who has been accused by the coup leader of influencing the affairs of the oil-rich nation. Their eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, had already faced charges of corruption and embezzlement of public funds, alongside several former cabinet members and two ex-ministers.

Sylvia Bongo was formally charged by an investigating judge on Thursday and has been placed under house arrest, as announced by Andre Patrick Roponat on state television channels. Additionally, she faces charges related to concealment and forgery.

Since the coup on August 30, Sylvia Bongo has remained under house arrest in the capital city of Libreville. She has been separated from her husband, and her French legal representatives have lodged a complaint in Paris, alleging what they perceive as a hostage situation.

Ali Bongo, who had been in power since 2009, was ousted by military leaders shortly after being declared the winner of a presidential election. The election result had been disputed by the opposition, and the military coup leaders have accused his administration of widespread corruption and poor governance.

Noureddin Bongo Valentin was indicted earlier this month and placed in provisional detention on charges of corruption.

In total, ten individuals have been indicted on various charges, including issues related to the electoral process, counterfeiting, misuse of official seals, corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and money laundering, as announced by Roponat during a press conference. Seven of them, including Noureddin Bongo, have been detained. Two former ministers, responsible for oil and public works, are also among those detained.

Ali Bongo, who himself was briefly under house arrest following the coup, has been granted the freedom to move around and travel abroad, as confirmed by Gabon’s new military leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, one week after the coup.

In October 2018, Ali Bongo experienced a stroke that kept him sidelined for ten months. General Oligui, during a speech to the Republican Guard, accused the former “First Lady” and Noureddin of exerting undue influence over the president’s decision-making during his convalescence, alleging they had manipulated his signature and issued orders on his behalf.

Immediately following the coup, General Oligui convened approximately 200 Gabonese business leaders, where he addressed concerns of corruption. During a televised broadcast, he sternly cautioned business leaders against overcharging and urged them to contribute to the country’s development. He also pledged to ensure that any excess funds would be returned to the state.