Home World News Madagascar President’s Ex-Aide Jailed for Graft In UK

Madagascar President’s Ex-Aide Jailed for Graft In UK

Madagascar graft
File photo of Romy Andrianarisoa

LONDON: Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina’s former chief of staff was jailed for three and a half years by a London court on Friday for offering to help precious stone miner Gemfields win lucrative mining rights in exchange for substantial bribes.

Romy Andrianarisoa, 47, was accused of using her position and proximity to Rajoelina to seek substantial payments from Gemfields between 2021 and 2023.

“You abused your position of significant trust or responsibility as chief of staff,” Judge Christopher Butcher said while passing sentence.

Andrianarisoa came into contact with Gemfields CEO Sean Gilbertson in 2021 and offered to help the company expand its business into Madagascar.

Gemfields, which owns the Faberge jewellery brand, 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 (nearly $300,000) between them.

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

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 and Andrianarisoa pleaded not guilty, standing trial at Southwark Crown Court in February.

Andrianarisoa said in evidence that she wanted Gemfields to get a mining licence for the benefit of Madagascar, telling jurors: “I never requested any payment for myself.”

But she was convicted and appeared in the dock on Friday alongside Tabuteau for sentencing. Tabuteau was sentenced to two years and three months.

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In a career spanning three decades and counting, I’ve been the foreign editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and the New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com. My work has featured in national and international publications like the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Global Times and Ashahi Shimbun. My one constant over all these years, however, has been the attempt to understand rising India’s place in the world. I can rustle up a mean salad, my oil-less pepper chicken is to die for, and it just takes some beer and rhythm and blues to rock my soul.