Chief of Staff to Madagascan President Arrested for Bribery in London
In a stunning turn of events, the Chief of Staff to Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has been arrested and charged with bribery offences in London. The arrest, carried out by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), has sent shockwaves through diplomatic circles and raised concerns about corruption at the highest levels of the Madagascan government.
The arrested Chief of Staff has been identified as Romy Andrianarisoa, a close aide to President Rajoelina. Alongside him, Philippe Tabuteau, a French national, has also been apprehended. Both individuals are suspected of attempting to solicit bribes from Gemfields, a prominent UK mining company, in exchange for securing licenses to operate in Madagascar. The NCA revealed that the sums requested by the accused amounted to CHF 250,000 (approximately £225,000) in upfront charges, along with a 5% equity stake in the company.
The arrest took place during a meeting where the suspects were allegedly in the process of soliciting the bribe. The NCA's International Corruption Unit played a pivotal role in the operation, highlighting the unit's ability to collaborate with industry partners to combat corruption.
Andy Kelly, Head of the International Corruption Unit at the NCA, expressed gratitude to Gemfields for their cooperation in bringing the matter to the agency's attention. Kelly underscored the importance of such cooperation in pursuing cases of this nature and emphasized the critical role it plays in the fight against corruption.
The arrest marks a significant step in the investigation, prompting the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Joanne Jakyme, to authorize charges against the accused. Jakyme emphasized the importance of maintaining fair and unbiased proceedings, urging against any reporting or commentary that could potentially prejudice the case.
The defendants appeared in court on August 12th and were remanded in prison until their next hearing, scheduled for September 8th at Southwark Crown Court. The upcoming trial is expected to shed light on the extent of the alleged bribery scheme and its potential implications.
The incident has sent shockwaves through diplomatic and political circles, casting a spotlight on the issue of corruption within the Madagascan government. Gemfields, the mining company at the center of the alleged bribery attempt, had acquired Oriental Mining, which held the rights to multiple gem mining licenses in Madagascar, in 2008. Both Gemfields and the Madagascan Embassy in the UK have refrained from commenting on the ongoing investigation, leaving many questions unanswered.
As the case unfolds, the international community will be closely watching the proceedings, as they could have far-reaching implications for transparency, governance, and accountability in Madagascar's political landscape.