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African dictators we fund are now buying up Paris {British newspaper lament aid} ^ | 29 July 2011 | Peter Allen

Posted on 07/29/2011 3:50:47 AM PDT by Cronos

FOREIGN aid has helped fund a multi-million-pound Paris property portfolio for African ­dictators, it emerged yesterday.

Scores of the most luxurious houses and flats in the French capital are now owned by men who regularly receive vast handouts – including British cash via European funding.

They include Ali Bongo, President of Gabon, with at least 39 properties, and Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo, who has 16.

The portfolio of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, president of Equatorial Guinea, includes a six-floor period building on the prestigious Avenue Foch worth at least £15million.

It is used by his family on shopping trips in France, while Obiang Nguema – who came to power in a bloody 1979 coup – prefers to occupy a £2,000-plus-a-night suite at the Plaza ­Athenee Hotel, off the chic Champs Elysee. The astonishing details are in a report handed to Paris prosecutors by anti-corruption groups Transparency International and Sherpa. They are also investigating claims that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt – both deposed in the Arab Spring – retain numerous homes in France.

Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi is also thought to be a Gallic property owner, as is Bashar Al-Assad, accused of killing his own subjects in Syria.

The dossier’s main accusation is that foreign aid flooding into blighted African states was used to fund the extravagant lifestyles of unelected leaders. French authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye to the scandal. Liberation newspaper highlighted President Sarkozy’s apparent inability to his give up his support for despots.

Liberation suggests Paris prosecutors were fooled by financial “illusionists” who hid the vast wealth. William Bourdon, barrister for the complainants, had to battle against “judicial silence”.

A spokesman for the UK’s Department for International Development said last night that Britain did not give direct aid to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea or the Republic of the Congo, although about 18 months ago it contributed food delivered directly by the United Nations to people hit by disaster in Congo. Britain’s direct aid in Africa, like that of other rich nations, tends to focus on countries where it has a colonial history. “DfID does not provide aid to any of these particular countries,’’ said the spokesman.

In France, it is claimed that in 2009, French customs intercepted a plane chartered by Teodorin Obiang Nguema, son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator. It contained 26 new supercars including seven Ferraris, five Bentleys, four Rolls-Royces and two Bugattis, as well as five Harley-David­sons. France’s anti-money laundering organisation, Tracfin, found Teodorin spent £17million at a 2009 auction of household goods once owned by designer Yves St Laurent.

A spokesman for Paris prosecutors said all families named in the files will be investigated for “acquiring real estate using misappropriated public funds”. Inquiries could take years but judges will get the power to freeze assets and return money to countries from which it was stolen.

Even if UK taxpayers’ funds did not directly contribute to the scandal, such cases fuel fears that aid too often enriches despots while failing to reach impoverished people.

The coalition government has controversially protected Britain’s aid budget from public spending cuts. It is due to rise 34 per cent from about £8billion to £11.4billion in 2014.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; United Kingdom
1 posted on 07/29/2011 3:50:49 AM PDT by Cronos
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To: Cronos

What a surprise!

2 posted on 07/29/2011 4:00:36 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius

Wonder if the African dictator in the White House has put a down payment on a luxury castle in France...with a moat

3 posted on 07/29/2011 4:23:29 AM PDT by BubbaJunebug
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To: BubbaJunebug

I am sure we have funded more than one of these properties.

4 posted on 07/29/2011 4:43:14 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: Cronos
The dossier’s main accusation is that foreign aid flooding into blighted African states was used to fund the extravagant lifestyles of unelected leaders

I am speechless that anyone thinks this is news. I thought funding this corruption was deliberate government policy.

5 posted on 07/29/2011 4:50:35 AM PDT by AndyJackson
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To: AndyJackson

But...But wait...Boner is flying around Africa to “promote” something. Isn’t that cool?!

6 posted on 07/29/2011 5:43:29 AM PDT by gr8eman (..."Well...I guess they had it coming, Will;...We all got it coming, Kid!")
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To: AndyJackson

Seriously. Just talk to Africans. They know that’s what goes on better than anyone else.

7 posted on 07/29/2011 6:01:06 AM PDT by Claud
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To: Cronos
Another recent report noted the influx of "investor" money into the Paris real estate market from China.

Of course gay Paree has long been a 'go-to' destination for fleeing Taiwanese politicians and company owners emptying the company and investor coffers.
8 posted on 07/29/2011 6:33:10 AM PDT by Tainan (Cogito Ergo Conservitus.)
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