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TOGO – LIBÉ INVESTIGATION: Orion Oil case: alligator shoes, palaces and grands crus… the lavish life of Lucien Ebata

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The 53-year-old businessman was spending a fortune from Congolese oil, especially in France. Usually in cash, and without forgetting to sprinkle relatives and dignitaries of the Sassou-Nguesso regime.

Libération reveals the mechanisms of what could be one of the main channels for diverting Congolese oil revenues, from Paris to Brazzaville, Switzerland and Monaco. In question, the company Orion Oil and its boss Lucien Ebata, close to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and with multiple relations with French economic and political personalities.

“Which car did you get?” On the phone, Lucien Ebata seems lost on 6 December 2016, according to a conversation intercepted by customs investigators. The dealer, based in Paris, laughs and says, “Ben, the one you ordered from us.” The boss of the Orion group no longer remembers which vehicle it is. This is not a used city car, but a white Bentley convertible. The seller reminds in the conversation that there is a balance of 274,435 euros to pay. A straw. The businessman may have a bad memory because he has many vehicles in France at the time: two Land Rover breaks, two Porsche Cayenne, a Bentley Continental, a Mercedes E-Class and a Fiat 500. There’s plenty to lose.

Is Lucien Ebata’s fortune in millions or billions of euros? Mystery. The 53-year-old Canadian-Congolese is not in the ultrarich rankings that Forbes magazine is used to publishing, of which he has a franchise for francophone Africa. In front of an investigating judge, on 20 December 2021, Lucien Ebata assures that his «annual revenues» are between 1 and 5 million euros. These figures seem to be underestimated in light of his delusional lifestyle, which is very well documented in the judicial investigation that has brought him under investigation in France. This is not to say that Lucien Ebata leads the great life, financed with cash which the investigators think comes from an elaborate system of embezzlement of public funds in Congo-Brazzaville. A sophisticated installation that benefits the dignitaries of the regime of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, but also Ebata himself.

When questioned in police custody in October 2021 about possible money laundering, the businessman said, “I refute this analysis.” Contacted by Libération, Lucien Ebata, presumed innocent, replied in the voice of his lawyer, Me Antoine Vey: We deplore the violation of secrecy […]. This disclosure is causing Mr. Ebata and his group significant reputational harm.”

A round addition of 5,594 euros
In Paris, one of Orion’s boss’s favorite shops is the Zilli clothing store, near the Champs-Elysées. Invoices attest that more than €235,000 was spent in 2011 and 2012 – in cash. On 8 December 2011, he made a raid on the shelves, making a single visit of 38,000 euros to buy costumes, shirts, pants and a pair of alligator shoes for 3,600 euros.

For his Parisian meals, Lucien Ebata enjoys the cuisine of the Laurent, a luxury restaurant in the 8th arrondissement. On 31 May 2012, in the company of ten guests, he made it out with a plump 5,594 euro bill, paid in cash. The menu is of the finest: foie gras, langoustines, turbot sections, lobsters, pigtails, all sprinkled with a castle of Yquem 1961 and a Mouton Rothschild at 1 150 euros each.

In Paris, where his wife and children live, Orion’s boss does not own real estate. It is owned in other countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain, South Africa… This wealth amounts to several million euros, according to traces of banking transactions found by investigators. In Paris, he lived for a long time on rue Beaujon, near the Arc de Triomphe, for a monthly rent of 5,500 euros. The family then moved to Avenue Marceau, near the Champs-Elysées. During the search of his home in May 2017, the judicial customs discovered that the businessman particularly liked luxury watches. They found nine, including Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard and Dior. They were estimated by an expert who established a range of 38,200 to 56,850 euros for the whole.

A hotel bill of 493,000 euros
To travel, Lucien Ebata uses private planes in a frantic way. In a note dated 22 June 2017, Tracfin, Bercy’s financial intelligence service, notes that Jet Monde has invoiced the various companies of the businessman for nearly 7 million euros of services in the previous three years. Lucien Ebata does not enjoy this extravagant life alone: he has a large circle of relatives, friends and collaborators, as well as a network of Congolese officials, relations to cherish for the preservation of his business and his status. A whole small world that appreciates Parisian palaces. French investigators have collected from the Peninsula, the businessman’s favorite hotel, huge bills in his name or those of his closest. Published on 14 July 2017 after the one and a half month occupancy of two rooms – including the 111, one of the most expensive suites – one of them amounts to 493,000 euros.
One of Orion’s boss’s most recurring and expensive guests is certainly former Congo Finance Minister Calixte Nganongo. Between 2016 and 2018, while he was a member of the government, he was entitled to sixty nights of all expenses paid in the most beautiful establishments, for a total of 278,000 euros. This central figure of the Brazzaville regime, former leader of the National Oil Society of Congo, has all the attentions of Ebata. Shortly after Nganongo was appointed to the government in May 2016, the businessman ordered 60,500 euros worth of leather goods and footwear from him in a boutique on the Champs-Elysées. For the occasion, the saleswoman was sent to Brazzaville to take the size of the minister. Was it a gesture intended to secure the good graces of the great fundraiser? “It is possible that when Mr. Nganongo [became] Minister of Finance, he approached me for the Board.

Source : Libération

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POLITICS

SENEGAL – Harassment, food tampering, communication ban: the Diomaye Coalition President alert on the conditions of detention of his candidate

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Bassirou Diomay Faye

The Diomaye Coalition President warns about the conditions of detention of candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye. The members of the said coalition inform that his visiting days have been changed and he can only receive visits on Tuesdays and Wednesdays within the Court. He is also prohibited from telephone communications. The Diomaye Président coalition denounces this relentlessness against its candidate and holds the regime responsible for any attack on the physical or moral integrity of their candidate.

“Following the official launch of the Diomaye President Coalition and the massive adhesions of opposition leaders, it was expected that the government in power would reinstate the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye in his rights, particularly in the context of a presidential election of which he is undoubtedly the favourite,” reads a statement.

However, the Coalition announces that the Prison Administration, under the responsibility of the Minister of Justice, has decided to unilaterally and without justification tighten the conditions of detention of candidate Bassirou Diomaye FAYE by:

“A unilateral modification of his visiting days now, the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye can only receive visits on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and this within the Court itself. A ban on telephone communications under the pretext that the favorite candidate in the presidential election whose campaign begins in two days has conversations whose purpose is political. A continuous harassment of the room of the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye is now searched at every turn.”

Moreover, she notes a «lack of security measures despite her status as a candidate in the presidential election of February 25, 2024 and multiple alerts on probable alterations of the food served to her. Candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye no longer has breakfast.”
The Diomaye President coalition denounces this relentlessness against its candidate. “We strongly denounce this umpteenth violation of the principle of equality between candidates in the presidential election of February 25, 2024. We call for the immediate release of Bassirou Diomaye Faye to actively participate in the election campaign.”

In any case, she stresses, «the State of Senegal has the responsibility to ensure its protection if it unjustly decides to maintain it in the bonds of detention».

In short, the Diomaye Coalition President indicates that «Macky Sall, Aissata Tall Sall and Amadou Ba will be held responsible for any attack on the physical or moral integrity of the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye».

Source : PressAfrik

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POLITICS

SENEGAL – 100.000 Housing: Ismaila Madior Fall á Bambilor for the inauguration

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This Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese from outside, Ismaila Madior Fall, accompanied by Minister Annette Ndiaye Seck, will inaugurate the “City of the Diaspora” in Bambilor. This project aims to prevent the creation of new slums and encourage the mass production of accessible housing.

According to the Observer, the aim is to boost and diversify the supply of housing for low-income and/or irregular households, while facilitating access to adapted bank financing. With a clear vision of strengthening the construction ecosystem, this initiative demonstrates the commitment of the Senegalese government to its diaspora.

The 100,000 units planned in this project were developed in partnership with the Senegalese government and its collaborators, seeking to meet the specific housing needs and concerns of Senegalese living abroad.

Source: PressAfrik

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POLITICS

SENEGAL – Thione Niang “I have no program, I have a vision”

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Thione Niang ©Ze-Africanews

Social entrepreneur Thione Niang is a candidate in the February 2024 election. In this exclusive interview, he reveals his vision, his projects in particular, “Give One project”, “JeufZone” which includes an agricultural component, training but also women’s empowerment. 

It was an opportunity for the social entrepreneur to look back on his beginnings, on the process of returning to his country of origin, Senegal. He addressed the political question: his involvement in the political ring while giving his opinion on the Senegalese political landscape. 

African politics is another aspect of this interview. The urgency of the industrialization of the continent, the urgency of helping African youth so that they have the same opportunities for development as other young people in the world, is close to his heart. 

On the question of the African school, Thione Niang proposes a redesign of it, starting with a paradigm shift and especially the content of the teachings. According to him, we must return to our fundamentals, namely our own models of identity representations, notably Cheikh Anta Diop or Nkrumah. 

Thione Niang, also told us about vision, his vision and not a program, to give each Senegalese what he deserves both in terms of education, health, but also on the development of infrastructure, which, according to him, necessarily passes first and foremost through food self-sufficiency, hence his return to the land for an assertive agricultural progress.

He ended up sending a strong message to all Senegalese.

The rest of the interview on this link:

Thione Niang ©Ze-Africanews
Thione Niang ©Ze-Africanews
Thione Niang ©Ze-Africanews
Thione Niang ©Ze-Africanews
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