Gabon’s Anti-Corruption Drive Bags a Good Friend of King Charles
As part of the new transitional government’s efforts to make Gabon safe for development, Lee White, the Minister of Water and Forests under the Bongo government that was just ousted in a coup and a close friend of the British King, was put under house arrest on Oct. 4. He is accused of “complicity in illegal logging” and “embezzlement of funds”. A British-born citizen and very white, White ran climate change programs in Gabon on behalf of the British monarchy, and was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2010 for services rendered.
Among other charges, he is accused of helping his ministry’s forestry director Ghislain Moussavou in a scheme to collect fines from forestry operators and revenues from the sale of abandoned wood which should have been paid into the public treasury account, but were allegedly diverted for other purposes. Sums of several hundred million CFA francs (several hundred thousand euros) have been diverted since 2021.
Ali Bongo, whose notorious father had ruled the country for over 40 years before him, was overthrown in a coup in late August. The deposed President is so close to the British monarchy that he brought Gabon, a former French colony, into the British Commonwealth.
It has been written that the “Prince’s Trust” of Charles finances the anti-poaching operation that White has headed in Gabon’s national parks and that have locked up vast areas of the country’s forests. This is a military operation for which its eco-soldiers received training from both Great Britain and the U.S. White proudly told Declassified UK that they had killed 5 poachers in the past year, claiming, however, that “we never shoot first”.
In addition to cleaning out the widespread corruption dating from over half a century of the Bongo family’s rule, the transitional government of President Brice Oligui Nguema has moved to normalize relations with the neighboring countries, and intends to advance an ambitious infrastructure development program.