`Many African dictators own properties in Paris`

Scores of the most luxurious houses and apartments in Paris are now owned by the African leaders.

Last Updated: Jul 29, 2011, 13:02 PM IST

London: A number of African dictators have bought properties worth multi-million pounds in Paris, allegedly using foreign aid, a media report said.

Scores of the most luxurious houses and apartments in the French capital are now owned by the African leaders who regularly receive European funding, the `Daily Express` newspaper reported.

The African leaders include Ali Bongo, President of Gabon, with at least 39 properties, and Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo, who has 16.

The portfolio of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, President of Equatorial Guinea, includes a six-floor period building on the prestigious Avenue Foch worth at least GBP 15 million, the report said.

It`s used by his family on shopping trips in France, while Obiang Nguema -- who came to power in a bloody 1979 coup -- prefers to occupy a 2,000-pounds-plus-a-night suite at the Plaza-Athenee Hotel off the chic Champs Elysee, it said.

The details are in a dossier handed to Paris prosecutors by anti-graft groups Transparency International and Sherpa. Their main accusation is that foreign aid flooding into blighted African nations was used to fund the extravagant lifestyles of unelected leaders.

Claims are also being investigated that ex-Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt -- both deposed in the Arab Spring -- retain numerous homes in France, the report said.

Libya`s Colonel Gaddafi is also thought to be a Gallic property owner, as is Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad who is accused of killing his own subjects in Syria.

A spokesman for Paris prosecutors said all families named in the files will be investigated for "acquiring real estate using misappropriated public funds".

PTI