UK 'helps dictators buy Paris homes'
African leaders accused of stealing millions in aid
By Peter Allen of the Daily Mail on 29 July 2011
Link to original article which also contains photograph and a piece on Zimbabwe.
* Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congo owns 16 of the most luxurious houses and flats in Paris
British taxpayers are funding the multi-million-pound Paris property portfolios of a African dictators, it has been claimed.
Scores of luxury houses and flats in the French capital are now owned by men who regularly receive vast charitable hand-outs.
It emerged yesterday that Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, owns 16 of the most luxurious houses and flats in the French capital.
Nguesso is one of a number of African politicians said to have built vast overseas property empires using public funds – including the proceeds of foreign aid – from their countries’ treasuries.
Ali Bongo, president of Gabon, owns at least 39 properties in Paris, while the portfolio of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, includes an entire six-storey period building on the prestigious Avenue Foch, alone worth £15 million.
The details are contained in a report compiled by the anti-corruption groups Transparency International and Sherpa, and handed over to Paris prosecutors.
Nguema Mbasogo's property is used by members of his family when they are on shopping trips in France, he himself – who came to power in a bloody coup in 1979 – prefers to stay in a £2,000-a-night suite at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, off the Champs-Élysées.
French prosecutors are also investigating claims that deposed ‘Arab Spring’ dictators, including Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, have numerous homes in France.
The main accusation compiled in the legal dossier is that money flooding into blighted African states was immediately used to fund the extravagant lifestyles of unelected leaders.
Paris prosecutors said all of the families named in the files would be investigated for ‘acquiring real estate using misappropriated public funds’.
The inquiries are likely to take months, if not years, but judges will eventually have the power to freeze the assets before returning money to the countries from which it was stolen.
The £8.1billion that Britain currently spends on foreign aid is set to increase to £11.4billion in 2014 – a 34 per cent rise.
Controversially, the Department for International Development is one of the few actually seeing its expenditure rise while most public spending is cut back to reduce Britain’s huge deficit.
Sassou Nguesso, 67, has been president of the Congo since 1997, having ruled previously from 1979 to 1992. In his first period, he ruled a single-party regime under a Marxist agenda.
Under heavy pressure, he introduced multi-party politics in 1990 and was booted out of power two years later. He returned in 1997 after leading rebel forces in a civil war, and has since won two elections without meaningful opposition.
A spokesman for the Department for International Development said last night that no direct aid is given to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea or the Republic of Congo, although it has contributed food to people hit by disaster in the Congo.
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Remember, this only covers aid spent in Paris. There is a further Daily Mail article covering jets and other expenses of African Dictators. If anyone has a link to this other article, would you please post it below?
Are you listening Mr Cameron?