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France; Gabon: Gabonese President Ordered to Pay Restitution

(Oct. 6, 2008) On September 29, 2008, a court of appeal in Bordeaux, France, confirmed a June 2007 ruling ordering Omar Bongo, the President of Gabon, to return €457,347 (about US$654,000) to the son of a French company director. This ruling is enforceable even if a further appeal is initiated.

The company director, Rene Cardona, was imprisoned in 1996, in Libreville, Gabon, following a dispute with Bongo over the sale of an arms and fishing company. In order to secure his release, Cardona's son had paid the amount in question into Bongo's personal banking account. (French Appeal Court Orders Gabon's Bongo to Return 460,000 Euros, AFP (in French), Oct. 1, 2008, Open Source Center No. EUP20081001950023.)