Montreal – The French NGO Sherpa on Thursday called for an investigation into the purchases of Canadian real estate by African leaders and their relatives using allegedly stolen riches.
The Paris-based organisation said it has asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to probe their “ill-gotten gains” already under scrutiny by French authorities.
An RCMP spokesperson said federal police are aware of the allegations but would not comment further.
The Coalition Biens Mal Acquis, a Canadian group that has been following the case, confirmed to AFP that a criminal complaint has been lodged with the RCMP.
The daily Journal de Montreal earlier revealed that “African dictators, other corrupt officials and people close to them owned dozens of properties” in Canada.
It identified more than Can$30 million worth of real estate in Montreal, Ottawa and elsewhere in the country bought by these individuals, some of whom have obtained Canadian permanent residency.
The buyers hail from Chad, the Congo, Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Coalition said it hoped prosecutions would also target intermediaries such as law firms and banks who facilitated or helped with these transactions.
Last year, a French court found Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodorin Obiang, guilty of corruption. He had been charged with embezzling 150 million euros ($180 million) of public funds to finance his jet-set lifestyle.
That prosecution was initiated following a complaint by Sherpa and another NGO.
Obiang was the first foreign leader to face prosecution under a 2010 French anti-corruption law.
France is currently probing the wealth amassed in the country by relatives of Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo), the late Omar Bongo (Gabon) and deposed Central African president Francois Bozize.