French investigators search logistics firm Bollore

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PARIS (AP) — The offices of leading French logistics firm Bollore Group have been searched as part of an investigation into whether the transport and logistics firm leaned on its public relations subsidiary Havas to win contracts to manage ports in West Africa, the company's lawyer said Wednesday.

The searches occurred Friday, according to Bollore lawyer Olivier Baratelli. In a telephone interview, he rejected the allegation that Havas offered its PR services to Guinean and Togolese leaders to get the deals for its parent company, noting that Bollore was until recently only a minority stakeholder in Havas.

"The authorities want to know whether Havas helped us get port concessions. Let them investigate," he said. "If you look at how we got the concessions in Togo and Guinea, it's beyond reproach."

Bollore's logistics arm has a huge presence in Africa , with operations in 46 countries, including container terminals in Nigeria, Congo, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

The searches were first reported by French newspaper Le Monde.