PARIS, April 24 (Reuters) – French billionaire Vincent Bollore, who stepped down days ago as chairman of media giant Vivendi, is being questioned by police as part of an investigation into allegations of corrupt business practices in Africa, his lawyer said.
Shares in his holding company Groupe Bollore SA fell around 6 percent on the news of his police interrogation, while shares in Vivendi also fell around 1 percent.
Groupe Bollore said its African business interests were under investigation. It said it would cooperate with the investigation and denied any wrongdoing.
The probe related to the billing of its communications services in Guinea and Togo between 2009 and 2010, the company said in a statement.
“He’s indeed being questioned as we speak,” Bollore’s lawyer Olivier Baratelli said.
Groupe Bollore’s spokesman could not be reached and did not respond to messages. Bollore’s personal spokesman declined to comment.
Challenges magazine reported two weeks ago that Bollore had been summoned by judges investigating whether the 66-year-old’s Havas communications company was involved in influencing elections in West Africa.
Challenges reported that the probe involved two separate cases, one in Guinea Conakry and the other in Togo. The French judges are examining whether Havas helped finance the electoral campaigns of politicians who once in office granted port concessions to Bollore’s group, the magazine said.
Bollore was being quizzed in Nanterre, on the western outskirts of Paris. (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic, Mathieu Rosemain and Sudip Kar-Gupta Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Adrian Croft)