PUTEAUX, France (Reuters) - French tycoon Vincent Bollore warned investors on Friday that his conglomerate will suffer from the current judicial investigations over allegations of corruption in West Africa - allegations which are denied by his company.
Bollore himself, 66, was put under formal investigation in April over those same allegations. They claim that his family-run group - a logistics empire in former French colonies in Africa - undercharged for work on behalf of presidential candidates in Togo and Guinea.
Asked about the issue at the Groupe Bollore annual general meeting, Vincent Bollore predicted the legal proceedings will be tedious and detrimental to his company, likening them to France’s version of U.S. reality show “Survivor”.
“The group is going to experience a period of strong gales, as weather forecasters would say,” he said.
“This is going to last for 10 years, raids will be carried out, people will be questioned, the press will cover it day-to-day,” he added.
The company has confirmed its African business interests were under investigation over the billing for work carried out in the two countries of Togo and Guinea between 2009 and 2010 by its communications business Havas Worldwide.
Bollore warned shareholders about the negative commercial and financial consequences that could follow, given potential mistrust from some investors.
But he added that his group, founded 196 years ago, had already gone through several “world wars” and “revolutions” and should overcome today’s hardships.
Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta