The Chief of Staff to Madagascar’s President and an “associate” have been accused of bribery charges in the United Kingdom after a swift police inquiry, as declared by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Monday.
Romy Andrianarisoa, aged 46, the chief aide to Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, along with Philippe Tabuteau, aged 54, are facing allegations of soliciting a bribe from a British mining company in exchange for licenses to operate within Madagascar.
On Saturday, the duo was placed in custody following their arrest on Thursday in central London, at a meeting where they are believed to have tried to solicit a bribe, as revealed by the NCA.
“Following a fast-paced investigation into suspected bribery in action, Andrianarisoa and Tabuteau were arrested in the Victoria area of London on Thursday afternoon,” it added.
Their next court appearance is scheduled for September 8 in a South London court.
Initiated by concerns raised by the mining company Gemfields, the National Crime Agency (NCA), responsible for addressing serious and organized crime both domestically and internationally, commenced an investigation.
Andrianarisoa and Tabuteau, the latter being a French citizen, were allegedly pursuing approximately £225,000 ($285,000) as “upfront charges” and also aiming for a five-percent ownership share in a potential licensing agreement within the island nation situated off the southeastern coast of Africa.
No additional information regarding the purported offenses was furnished.
Andy Kelly, the leader of the NCA’s international corruption unit, commended Gemfields for “bringing this issue to our notice and for their continued collaboration with the investigation.”
“Their quick reactions to engage the NCA have been critical to our ability to pursue this case,” he added.
Both individuals have been charged with a single count each of soliciting, agreeing to receive, or accepting a bribe, as stipulated by the UK’s 2010 Bribery Act.
If convicted, they could each face up to 10 years in prison.
Gemfields, a company engaged in the extraction and promotion of colored gemstones, focuses on emeralds sourced from Zambia and rubies from Mozambique, according to its official website.
The company does not conduct mining operations in Madagascar, although it possesses Oriental Mining, a Madagascar-based entity that reportedly possesses mining licenses for operations in the country.