Wife of Gabon’s Ousted President Charged with Money Laundering  

by Xara Aziz
Union Sonapresse

Sylvia Bongo Valentin, the wife of Gabon’s overthrown President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been charged with money laundering among other charges, according to a public prosecutor via an Al Jazeera report.

The charges come one month after a coup ousted her husband as commander-in-chief.

The former first lady was placed under house arrest in the country’s capital of Libreville after her husband was deposed late last month. Before he was ousted, he had proclaimed he won the presidential election. In addition to Valentin, the former president and former first lady’s oldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, was charged with corruption.

Reports say an investigating judge charged Sylvia Bongo Valentin on Thursday, according to Andre Patrick Roponat, the prosecutor assigned to the case. The order for her to be placed under house arrest order was also upheld.

A member of Sylvia Bongo Valentin said in early September that she was being kept “incommunicado outside any legal framework.”

“The Bongos’ son, Noureddin, has already been charged with corruption and embezzling public funds with several former cabinet members and two ex-ministers,” according to the report in Al Jazeera. “Ali Bongo took over when his father Omar died in 2009 after nearly 42 years in power. Now 64, Bongo ruled the country until his overthrow this August after the presidential election.”

The election outcome was named a scam by the opposition and the military coup leaders, who have also blamed his government of prevalent corruption and merciless governance.

According to Transparency International, “Conflict and security challenges have further weakened institutions and undermined states’ capacity to decisively respond to corruption. This has also meant little to no action in preventing capital flight – estimated to be in tens of billions of dollars each year – from the region. Independent checks on power continued to take a hit too.”

The report continues: “Opposition figures or activists have been intimidated, smeared or arrested – at times under the pretense of anti-corruption crackdowns and enabled by heavily politicized judicial systems.”

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