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Madagascar president’s former aide jailed for offering mining licence for bribes

MALAGASY President Andry Rajoelina’s former chief of staff was jailed for three and a half years by a London court for offering to help precious stone miner Gemfields (GEMGE.L) 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.

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.

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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.

By The African Mirror