Madagascan president’s ex-aide convicted of offering mining licence for bribes

MADAGASCAN President Andry Rajoelina’s ex-chief of staff was convicted in a London court on Tuesday of offering to help precious stone miner Gemfields win lucrative mining rights in exchange for substantial bribes, said Reuters.

Romy Andrianarisoa, 47, was accused of seeking substantial payments from Gemfields between 2021 and 2023, the newswire reported.

Gemfields, which mines emeralds and rubies in Zambia and Mozambique, became suspicious and approached Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which deployed an undercover officer posing as a consultant negotiating on Gemfields’ behalf.

During conversations with the purported consultant, known as “Charles” to protect his identity, Andrianarisoa and her associate, Philippe Tabuteau, sought around 270,000 Swiss francs ($310,000) between them, said Reuters.

The pair also wanted a 5% stake in a Gemfields company mining in Madagascar which, based on valuations of similar operations in Mozambique and Zambia, would be worth around $4m.

Prosecutors said Andrianarisoa and Tabuteau were both offered payments by “Charles” in rubies, to make it easier to hide the corrupt payments.

They were arrested in a London hotel last year and each charged with one count of bribery, after which Rajoelina sacked Andrianarisoa with immediate effect.

Tabuteau pleaded guilty last year, but Andrianarisoa pleaded not guilty and stood trial this month at Southwark Crown Court, said Reuters.

Andrianarisoa, who had worked for energy giant BP and Chinese state oil major CNOOC before becoming an adviser to Rajoelina, said in evidence that she wanted Gemfields to get a mining licence for the benefit of Madagascar.