French billionaire Vincent Bollore, who last week stepped down as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of media conglomerate Vivendi, has been detained by French police as part of an investigation into dealings of his family holding company, Bollore Group. According to multiple reports, the mogul’s detention was for questioning over the conditions of Bolloré Group obtaining two container port terminals in Togo and Guinea in 2010. Le Monde first reported Bolloré was placed in custody as part of a judicial investigation that is notably examining “bribing foreign public officials.” Deadline has reached out to the prosecutor’s office in Nanterre, the Parisian suburb where Bolloré was detained.
In a statement on its website today, Bolloré Group said one of its subsidiaries “is under investigation regarding the payment of provisions for communication services in Guinea and Togo that were provided in 2009 and 2010. This investigation is the result of a claim filed against Bolloré Group by a former employee who has been sentenced by a court to 3 years and 9 months in prison without parole and around 10 million euros of damages to the Bolloré Group for misappropriation of assets.”
It continues, “Its former subsidiary, SDV Africa, did not engage in any illegal actions and the Bolloré Group reaffirms that these communication services were conducted in full transparency. The hearing of its executives should provide the judicial authorities with useful clarification regarding these issues that have been assessed by an independent expert. This expertise led to the conclusion that these transactions fully complied with all laws and regulations.”
“Bolloré Group executives welcome this opportunity to fully cooperate with the judicial authorities to restore the truth about those facts.”
The news today follows some changes at Vivendi, of which Bolloré Group held a controlling 20.5% as of the end of 2017 and which is the parent company of Canal Plus.
In a series of surprise moves this month, Bolloré stepped down as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Canal Plus on April 10. Then last week, he ankled the same role at Vivendi, replaced by his son, Yannick Bolloré, as Chairman.
Vivendi shares slid .76% in Paris near the close while Bolloré Group was down 6.5%.