French actress Sonia Rowland, of Rwandan descent, has been placed under formal investigation in France after she was accused of investigating the huge fortune of the late Gabonese President Omar Banguer, which prosecutors allege has ill-gotten gains.
Rowland was the first winner of the Miss France pageant of African descent in 2000, when she was 22 years old. In 2003, Beauty Queen received an apartment in Paris as a gift from Bangor, with real estate valued at about € 800,000 (over $ 850,000), according to the French newspaper Le Parisien.
The French National Prosecutor for Financial Crimes (PNF) confirmed to CNN on Thursday that Roland had been brought under formal investigation into allegations of “hiding and embezzling public funds”.
No arrest warrant has been issued against Roland, the prosecutor’s office said.
In a statement sent to CNN, his lawyer Charles Morrell said the luxury real estate Roland acquired from the Bango family was unsolicited and was discovered many years later as suspicious.
“He clearly admitted that he was stupid but opposed any crime,” Morrell said. “At no time did he know the source of the funds or the financial package.”
Morrell added that Roland “has no doubt he will be cleared at the end of the investigation.”
The Bongo family has ruled Gabon for more than five decades.
Omar Bango died in 2009 of a heart attack while undergoing treatment for bowel cancer. He ruled Central Africa for 42 years, becoming president in 1967. Seven years after Gabon gained independence from France. He was quickly replaced by his son Ali Bango.
Omar Bango ruled Gabon with an iron fist, devastated by his decades-long rule Pak eating Allegations of corruption.
The acquisition of the late president in France was the subject of a long-running criminal investigation by French authorities, with some of his accounts confiscated and property confiscated.
In 2016, two houses belonging to Bongo’s son Ali were seized, one in Nice and the other in the capital, Paris, according to Le Parisien.
Omar Bango’s four children have been accused by French prosecutors of corruption – a charge they have all denied.