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Gabon - Corruption

A chokehold of corruption and monopolies, centered on the Bongo family, thwart genuine competition and much-needed economic diversification. The government of Ali Bongo Ondimba has sought to distance itself from the style of his father, former President Omar Bongo, known for relying heavily on the distribution of patronage and non-transparent management of natural resources during his 42 years in power.

The government continues to take steps to identify and root out corruption in its own bureaucracies, contracting and procurement system, and the security forces. The government has sought the technical expertise of international organizations and corporations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Olam, Bechtel, and Alex Stewart to audit procurement processes, make recommendations to enhance transparency, and advise on procedures to entice foreign investment. Gabon is aware of its existing capacity constraints and wants to ensure a sound, well-sequenced, and cost-efficient implementation of its strategic development plan. US firms do at times report difficulty in dealing with lower levels of various ministries and in finding responsive interlocutors with which to negotiate and finalize agreements.

The Commission to Combat Illicit Enrichment (CNLCEI), established in 2004 and charged with publishing quarterly and annual reports on its activities, has done little to increase transparency. Corruption is rarely, if ever, prosecuted in Gabon. To date, CNLCEI has brought no one to trial.

As a BEAC country, the government of Gabon has a National Financial Investigations Agency (ANIF). ANIF serves to investigate domestic corruption and money laundering issues while maintaining contact and collaboration with its regional counterparts. While functional, ANIF lacks the necessary human resources to be effective in its mission. Gabon’s legal system also lacks the capacity to effectively prosecute money laundering cases. The legal process is slow and cumbersome, judges are not trained to hear money laundering cases, evidence collection is inadequate, and the judiciary remains inefficient and susceptible to inappropriate influence.

No international or regional watchdog organizations operate in Gabon, and local civil society lacks capacity to play a significant role in highlighting cases of corruption.

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Page last modified: 06-09-2016 10:44:31 ZULU