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“Françafrique’s crazy money”; the scandal of ill-gotten goods

By Léo Pajon
Posted on Monday, 25 November 2019 10:53

"The crazy money of Francafrique. The case of ill-gotten property", by Xavier Harel (scriptwriter) and Julien Solé (graphics). Glénat © Glénat

This deeply informative book by journalist Xavier Harel and cartoonist Julien Solé goes back to the source of the affair of ill-gotten gains, by unveiling a system established since independence in Francophone Africa in the 1960s.

“The banks knew. The oil companies knew. The Banque de France knew. Tracfin, Bercy’s anti-money laundering cell, knew. The Secret Service knew. The journalists knew. And yet, no one did anything.”

Jean Merckaert, an employee of the Catholic Committee against Hunger is one of the primary investigators into the affair of ill-gotten gains is given the floor in this well-documented graphic novel delving into the incestuous relations between France and its former colonies.

As is Xavier Harel, journalist and author of “Le Scandale des biens mal acquis” (La Découverte), another expert on the matter.

The result is an unsparing exposé that goes to the roots of a system established since independence in the 1960s, focusing on the autocratic regimes established in Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon.

It tackles complex issues such as the creation of Delta Synergie, a sprawling holding company that allowed “the regulated carving up of Gabon by the Bongo dynasty”.

An activist book

Filled with incredible anecdotes (for example, Blaise Compaoré who allegedly fraudulently entrusted $3m in small denomination bills, hidden in djembés, to Dominique de Villepin, then Secretary General of the Elysée) and truculent characters (such as Teodorin Nguema Obiang, furious because his Bugatti Veyron was seized), the subject matter lends itself perfectly to the comic book format of boxes and bubbles.

The unflinching work notes the progress of justice, but ends by observing that this will only prevail when the French actors and their intermediaries, who are largely absent from the trials, are also before the judges.

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