Congolese president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, his wife, son and a minister are embroiled in a bribery scandal following accusations from a former Gunvor employee who claims to have made payments via a presidential aide and Belgian firm Semlex to win oil contracts, Africa News reports.
The employee said he also paid other bribes on behalf of Gunvor, the Geneva-based commodities and energy trading firm, to a state oil official and presidential aides to secure Ivory Coast oil deals.
Pascal Collard, who was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison term by a Swiss court on Aug. 28 for corruption related to these oil deals, made the accusations in a plea bargain that meant he avoided serving time in jail or paying a fine.
The plea bargain, whose authors include federal prosecutors Gerard Sautebin and Anne-Claude Scheidegger, outlined “corrupt agreements with foreign public agents” relating to Gunvor’s business in Congo and Ivory Coast, both oil producers.
Reuters obtained a copy of the final plea bargain document from the court. It was received by the court in early July and approved by the court on Aug. 28.
The document described the payments as bribes without giving a full breakdown of amounts made to each recipient.
Collard reportedly made payments worth more than $15 million to secure Congolese oil deals. The payments were allegedly made to Congo’s president and his family members via intermediary companies, including Petrolia E&P SA, a firm owned by Congolese presidential aide Maxime Gandzion, and Semlex, the document said.
The prosecutors described Gandzion as a “public agent”, essentially a government official who was used to secure deals by gaining “undue advantage”.
Part of the cash was reportedly transferred to President Denis Sassou Nguesso, his wife Antoinette Sassou Nguesso and his son Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, who was in charge of oil sales for state-run Societe Nationale des Petroles du Congo (SNPC), the document said, citing Collard.