Brice Laccruche Alihanga, former cabinet director of Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, was detained Friday on embezzlement charges, his lawyer told AFP.
Three other ministers were also set for hearings Friday according to the pro-governmental daily L’Union, something that the prosecutor’s office was not able to immediately confirm.
Laccruche was placed under provisional detention for “embezzlement and money laundering,” his lawyer Anges Kevin Nzigou said.
Laccruche, 39, was named cabinet director in 2017 and rose in prominence after Bongo suffered a stroke in October 2018.
In November, Bongo began to take back control and Laccruche was dismissed, the start of a ramped up drive against corruption in the oil-rich central African state.
Laccruche was first detained on December 3, just after being sacked as a minister without portfolio.
Also arrested was the former director of the National Fund for Health Insurance (CNAMGS), Renaud Allogho Akoue and the former presidential communications Ike Ngouoni, who was regarded as Laccruche’s right-hand man.
L’Union reported that more than 85 billion CFA francs ($142 million / 129 million euros), had disappeared from the funds of the Gabon Oil Company (GOC) over the past two years.
GOC is a state firm run by Patrichi Tanasa, who is close to Laccruche. Tanasa has been in custody since late November.
Judicial officials are interested in the Dupont Consulting Company, a private firm run by Gregory Laccruche, a brother of the former cabinet director, who has been detained as well.
The company is suspected of involvement in the disappearance of GOC funds.