“THIS port is for the Togolese,” says Sherif Tchedre, a mechanic standing among containers that line the shorefront in Lomé, Togo’s capital. “But it is Bolloré who runs everything.” He thinks little of the port’s French operator, Bolloré Group, or the conglomerate’s eponymous owner-boss, Vincent Bolloré. They do “nothing for Togo”, he says, adding that the Frenchman is too cosy with African presidents.
The French police seem to think so, too. On April 24th they arrested Mr Bolloré and some of his firm’s senior staff in Paris on suspicion of paying bribes a decade ago to win bids to run the Lomé port and one in Conakry, in Guinea. The next day he and two others were placed under formal investigation, one step short of being charged. The authorities suspect that Havas, a communications firm that Bolloré then owned, gave African politicians heavily discounted help in their election campaigns. Mr Bolloré and Bolloré Group deny the allegations.
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