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Ex-Gabon oil firm chief gets 12-year jail sentence for corruption

by Mr Everywhere
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Allegations of rampant corruption in the extractive sector in Gabon often involve top public officials

Following an investigation into corruption charges involving him and two other former employees of the state oil firm, a Gabonese court sentenced the former director of the Gabon Oil Company.

Christian Patrichi Tanasa and his deputy Jérémie Ayong were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering by the Special Criminal Court in Libreville on Thursday and sentenced to 12 and 10 years in prison, respectively. The jury acquitted Treasurer Carelle Ndemengane, according to French radio station RFI.

“It was a good decision,” prosecution lawyer Aymard Moutsinga told RFI. “Justice was served.”

Defence attorneys, who had hoped for an acquittal, expressed disappointment and stated that they would appeal the decision. “The fact that they have been sentenced simply demonstrates the absence of justice in this country,” Anges Kevin Nzigou said.

The prosecution had asked for a 15-year prison sentence and a fine of 100 million CFA ($155,000).

Moutsinga stated that the court was “merciful,” but she had hoped for a harsher sentence.

Tanasa has been held in preventive detention for the past two years after being accused of stealing 85 billion CFA francs ($143 million) from the state oil company. In January 2021, he claimed he was tortured and sexually assaulted while in detention.

Corruption in the extractive sector is widespread, and it has previously implicated other top officials, including Brice Laccruche Alihanga, President Ali Bongo’s cabinet director for more than two years.

Laccruche was fired in November 2019 as part of what Bongo described as a crackdown on theft and money laundering.

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