Billionaire Bollore Held by French Police in Africa Corruption Case

Billionaire Vincent Bollore is being held for questioning by French judicial police Tuesday as part of an investigation into possible bribes of public officials in two African countries. The probe -- which could result in charges against Bollore -- is looking at contracts awarded to his company for the operation of container terminals in Lome, Togo, and Conakry, Guinea, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named as the probe is ongoing.

Investigating judges suspect that managers of Bollore Groupe used advertising company Havas to facilitate the election of African officials by providing communications advice nearly a decade ago at a discount price, the person said. Other managers were also held for questioning Tuesday, according to the person.

The investigation is a sign that French authorities are stepping up their prosecution of international corruption cases -- and aren’t afraid to go after top executives. Bollore runs a company with a market value of $14.7 billion that has a near-monopoly on ports in West and Central Africa. He is the biggest shareholder in Vivendi SA.

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