Former Elf CEO appears in Togo court

AP News
Posted: Sep 17, 2012 6:10 PM
Former Elf CEO appears in Togo court

LOME, Togo (AP) — Loik Le Floch-Prigent, the former chief executive officer of the French oil corporation Elf, appeared in a Togo court late Monday for a preliminary hearing on charges that he abetted efforts to defraud an Emirati businessman.

Le Floch-Prigent was extradited to Togo from Ivory Coast over the weekend and has been held in custody.

He arrived at the Palais de Justice in the capital, Lome, at 18:00 hours GMT where he heard to appear an Instruction Judge read the charges of financial fraud leveled against him and two other suspects by Emirati businessman, Abass Al Youssel.

Le Floch-Prigent was accompanied by his Togo Lawyer Rastico Lawson- Banku.

The French businessman looked tired and refused to talk to the press as he was escorted into the judge's chambers.

The purported scam against Abass Al Youssef was for $48 million. Earlier, the businessman lodged a complaint against Togolese businessman Bertin Sow Agba in the case. Sow Agba is a cousin of former Togolese Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona, who was also arrested after the Emirati businessman implicated him in the scam.

The case has rocked this small West African nation. In early September, hundreds of Bodjona's supporters besieged police headquarters and were dispersed by police firing tear gas. Bodjona has been charged with being an accomplice in the financial scam and has pleaded not guilty.

Le Floch-Prigent, who was convicted in France in several cases relating to his 1989-1993 tenure at Elf and handling of its finances, was extradited on Saturday from Ivory Coast. His court appearance in Togo was expected to happen on Monday or Tuesday.

In the older cases of wrongdoing, an investigation in the 1990s revealed a system of bribes and kickbacks in Elf's international business dealings. Elf later merged with another French company, and the new entity was renamed Total.