It is on its website that France 24 published revelations on 1st December 2016, which prove that the Guinean presidency was corrupted by the Anglo-Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, on the concession of Simandou, one of the biggest iron ore deposits in the world.
A scandal that revealed the real face of Alpha Conde regime ruling Guinea since 2010. Alpha Condé puts above all his interests, those of his only son, Mohamed Conde and his French, British and American sponsors.
For several weeks, revelations about suspicions of corruption around juicy mining contracts in Guinea have multiplied. In mid-November, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto admits to paying a commission to a close relative of President Alpha Condé to win the giant Simandou deposit. The Guinean president denies any wrongdoing and claims to have been unaware that his adviser, the French banker Francois de Combret was being paid by Rio Tinto. But according to exclusive information gathered by France 24, the Guinean power was at least aware of Combret’s initiatives towards the mining groups involved in Simandou.
For several years, Simandou is the stake of a fierce fight between the power, Rio Tinto and the Franco-Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz. Upon his arrival in the presidency in 2010 after decades of dictatorship, Alpha Condé decided to re-examine the mining sector, revising the contracts. By rewriting the mining code. Good governance is his credo, with the support of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and George Soros, an American billionaire and philanthropist. He decides to strike the spirits by withdrawing from BGSR, the company of Steinmetz, his license for the giant exploitation of Simandou, of which he affirms that it was obtained fraudulently under the dictatorship.
But for several months the wind has been turning. Allegations of corruption against those close to the president linked to new mining contracts are multiplying. A preliminary investigation of the national financial prosecutor’s office is thus under way in France. Most notably, surveys in the United States highlight practices in which companies have financed the presidential camp in exchange for obtaining contracts.
In November 2016, new rebound. After the leak of compromising emails, Rio Tinto admits to have paid the sum $ 10.5 million to Francois De Combret, in order to obtain rights on Simandou. The agreement, covering $ 700 million, is signed in April 2011.
According to e-mail exchanges on May 10, 2011, a few days after the signing of the agreement, Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, Sam Walsh, head of minerals, and Alan Davies, head of international operations, agreed to pay De Combret $ 10.5 million.
“I know it’s a lot of money,” Alan Davies writes. “But I emphasize that the result that we obtained was significantly improved by the contribution of François, his services, unique and inimitable, and his proximity with the president. ”
De Combret knew the Guinean president at the University of Political Sciences in Paris, before serving as Deputy Secretary-General of Élysée under Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and then a career in Lazard Business bank of paris. Since the victory of Alpha Conde, he played a key role in the renegotiation of Simandou. A discreet role until the revelation of these emails, which Rio Tinto claims in early November to have discovered as part of an internal investigation.
In this situation, the multinational dismissed two of its main leaders and warned the American, British and Australian courts.
The Guinean government reacted by demanding to make everything clear. By asserting, in a statement by the president himself and then by the Minister of Mines, that the authorities were totally unaware that De Combret was working for Rio Tinto. At a time when, according to the government, Combret had access to very confidential information.
Minister of Mines Abdoulaye Magassouba underlined in his statement that “this raises legal and ethical concerns if, as the information published in the press revealed that Mr De Combret provided privileged information in exchange for large sums of money.
Furthermore, Guinean authorities seem to charge Combret, suggesting that he was acting on his back by minting his privileged access to Alpha Conde. But according to several testimonies gathered by France 24, Combret acted hand in hand with the Guinean authorities, who were aware that his services were remunerated.
According to a recording obtained exclusively by France 24 and dating from 2012, Combret tells an actor in the negotiations of Simandou a conversation that he had with the Guinean president in this regard. “Rio Tinto is a huge company … But the president said to them, ‘Listen, if there’s no’ down payment ‘, I’ll cancel the concession.’ And he would have done it. »
The record does not establish whether down payment refers to Combret’s $ 10.5 million commission or the $ 700 million contract. But he indicates that Combret is working in concert with the power in place and that the president himself would be in the machination.
Thus, in another recording, obtained by France 24, de Combret offers, at the end of 2012, its mediation between the businessman Beny Steinmetz and the power over Simandou. Affirming a message from the president, he explained that rather than a costly trial: “there is a more intelligent solution for both parties that would be a transactional solution … To set up this transactional solution, you must have an intermediary who has The confidence of the two … To show your goodwill, you would agree that his childhood friend, that is me, would be your intermediary to both of you. This is proof of your goodwill since you choose his friend. »[Listen to the recording below.]
De Combret, who lives in Switzerland, has refused to respond to the requests of France 24, explaining that the current procedures prevented him from expressing himself. And the Guinean Minister of Mines refused to comment on the revelations.
A few months ago, the World Bank, which had a small share in this case, preferred to withdraw from the project. And Rio Tinto has just handed it over to the Chinese group Chinalco. Officially due to falling costs of iron ore. But this is not the end of the story. Considering the latest revelations, Beny Steinmetz is committed to launch legal trials against the main actors of this situation.
Mamadou Dian Donghol Diallo.