The former CEO of French oil corporation Elf Aquitaine, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, has been extradited from the Ivory Coast to Togo on charges relating to a $48 million fraud scheme.
The alleged scheme involves a Togolese bank account purported to contain over $270 million left behind by the Ivory Coast's former military ruler Robert Guei, who was killed in 2002, according to Radio France Internationale.
Charges were brought against Le Floch-Pringent after Emirati businessman Abass Al Youssef lodged a complaint with the Togolese government, claiming that he had been defrauded by Le Floch-Pringent, who was serving as his financial advisor while his business network was managing the Guei's funds.
Le Floch-Prigent's lawyer, Patrick Klugman, initially characterized his client's extradition as an "abduction."
"[This is] an abduction and in no way an extradition, because my client was arrested and handed over to the Togolese authorities without the intervention of any judicial authority," Klugman said, according to RFI.
Klugman later back-tracked, while maintaining his criticism of Togo's judicial processes, saying the "forms of extradition as we know them were not respected."
Former Togolese Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona and his cousin Sow Agba have also been implicated in the scheme by Youssef.
Bodjona's lawyer, Jil-Benoit Afangbedji, claimed his client was the victim of a political move to discredit him amid speculation that Bodjona may run for the presidency of Togo in 2015, AFP reported.
"That is at the root of this matter," Afangbedji said, AFP reported. "It is a purely political affair."
Le Floch-Prigent, 68, who currently works as an oil industry consultant, had previously been convicted in France for embezzling over $350 million in public funds during his time as Elf's CEO from 1989 to 1993 and served a five-year sentence, the BBC reported.
Elf later merged with French multinational oil and gas company TotalFina in 2000, becoming Total, though the Elf brand has been maintained.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....