Radio France International (RFI) has not made the demanded apology to President Hage Geingob after publishing a widely circulated article suggesting that he had received questionable payments from the sale of Canadian firm,
UraMin’s Namibian assets to Areva, a French energy company.
The president’s lawyer, Sisa Namandje, told the Windhoek Observer this week that that they are still to receive a formal response from RFI.
“We have not yet received a formal response, but RFI published another article on their website. We are still continuing with our consultations, I do not want to say much, just know the matter is still ongoing,” Namandje said
Last month, the president through his lawyers threatened unspecified action against the French broadcaster if it fails to retract its article, but instead of retracting their article, RFI simply wrote another article saying Geingob had denied any involvement in the matter.
Africa Mining Intelligence magazine first reported in 2012 that Geingob “pocketed US$300,000 (N$3.6 million at current rate) for facilitating the sale of UraMin to Areva.”
RFI reported that former head of Areva’s mining branch, Sébastien de Montessus, had been charged with corruption in relation to Areva’s purchase of UraMin’s Namibia mine, Trekkopje, in 2007.
“Payments to a Namibian mining company and its current president [Geingob] are under the spotlight,” RFI reported last month.
“The inquiry is looking into 5.6 billion euros paid to Namibia’s United Africa Group in 2009-10 and 8,000 euros paid in 2008-09 to current President Hage Geingob, who was trade and industry minister at the time,” the international radio network further reported.
Geingob had previously maintained that his consultancy work for UraMin, carried out through his now defunct HG Consultancy outfit, was conducted while he was a SWAPO backbencher in the National Assembly.
The purchase of Trekkopje has already seen former Areva boss, Anne Lauvergeon, and two members of her team being charged with the alleged overvaluation of the sale to conceal the fall in the price of uranium at the time.
Lauvergeon’s husband, Olivier Fric, has allegedly been charged with insider trading on UraMin shares, while investigators are allegedly looking into his links with Belgian financier Daniel Wouters, who was detained last month.
De Montessus was reportedly charged late March in connection with suspected misappropriation of funds, an accusation that he denies.
A clearly unimpressed Geingob last month demanded through his lawyers a full retraction of the article linking him to the transaction between Areva and UraMin, maintaining he was not in government at the time and operated as a private consultant, receiving funds above the board, for services rendered.
Namandje, in a letter to RFI, said the article contained “untruths and imputations of dishonesty towards Dr Geingob” and demanded its immediate retraction.
The president said he reserved his rights if no retraction was effected, hinting at a possible lawsuit against the French broadcasting giant.
Geingob said by dragging his name into the UraMin/Areva transaction, RFI was being sensational and hell-bent on finding an African connection to a case of alleged corruption by Canadian and French owned-businesses.
Namandje said to this day, Geingob has not been approached by any investigative authority over the allegations, despite five years in an ongoing probe.