French NGO Sherpa Meddles in Africa for Money
The ‘high profile lawsuit’ against Equatorial Guinea’s vice-president, Teodorin Obiang, isn’t the first publicity stunt pulled off by William Bourdon, the French lawyer of the Paris Bar Association. One of his many such cases is the corruption charges filed against the Mauritanian president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, while simultaneously feeding on massive fees, paid by his cousin brother and opponent, Mohamed Ould Bouamatou.
Mohamed Ould Bouamatou, besides being the Mauritanian president’s cousin and opponent, is also a banker and businessman who has spent more than 6 years in exile in Morocco following his role in the Leyne Strauss-Kahn and Partners’ (LSK) bankruptcy scandal and escaping the possible aftermath of filing corruption charges against the Mauritanian president.
Sherpa’s founder, William Bourdon and Bouamatou, share a close relationship. The two even released unproven corruption allegations against Abdel Aziz through reports published in 2013 and 2017 respectively, claiming Abdel Aziz’s government as corrupt, was released by Sherpa. Now, the relatives of the president are set to file a case of defamation against Sherpa.
The association shared by Bourdon with Bouamatou, who are both board members of the “Foundation for Equal Opportunities in Africa,” founded by Bouamatou, is much stronger than it appears. In fact, ‘The Fondation pour l’Egalité des Chances en Afrique’ (The Foundation for Equal Opportunities in Africa) contributed the entire “operational budget” of Sherpa for the year 2015 and 2016, respectively. Interestingly, according to Sherpa’s Activity Report for 2015, the French NGO received funding of €483,191 as its total budget for the year 2015, from several undisclosed donors.
The proof of Sherpa’s ‘financial affair’ with Bouamatou’s foundation, while serving his interests, first surfaced when Mrs. Franceline Lepany, the president of Sherpa, explicitly recognized in her statements made to a weekly, “Jeune Afrique,” the signature of partnership agreement between Sherpa and the Bouamatou foundation.
The questionable association of Sherpa with Bouamatou’s foundation explains in itself what the NGO had been working on since 2009 and was merely a smear campaign against the Mauritanian government, to tarnish its reputation.
Meddling in African Politics
Bourdon is also accused of intervening into the political condition of several other African nations. Equatorial Guinea, for instance, is one of the targets whose vice-president was charged for ’embezzlement of government funds’ along with the Bongo family in the state of Gabon and the family of Denis Sassou-Nguesso (Congo-Brazzaville), all of whom became a target of William Bourdon’s “ill-gotten property” survey.
It is not by coincidence that all of the cases were filed against three of the most powerful, political families of Africa, who have all been subjected to similar charges – “ill-gotten property.” William’s impulse to attract traction from global media, as well as excitement to exercise his power by changing the dynamics of African politics, is clearly visible with this constant meddling.
Failed Corporate Lawsuits
Of all the desperate lawsuits filed by the limelight-hungry French lawyer, William Bourdon, his fight against the ‘human rights violation’ and financial crimes committed by white-collared businesses and ‘kleptocratic’ nations, has caused the highest level of damage to his reputation possible. Despite “cleaning” up the world’s dirt, not everybody is all-praises for Sherpa. At least, not a significant number of critics Sherpa earned through the years, who claim that the NGO is merely destroying the reputation of (specifically) large-scale and vulnerable companies to gain “media attention and funds” in exchange.
When William filed human rights violation charges against corporate giants like, Samsung Electronics and Vinci Construction Company, they backfired and made him infamous for filing bogus lawsuits just to attract media attention in mass by only targeting notable personalities and firms that are vulnerable to reputational damage and are massively popular amongst media groups. Though the lawyer managed to cause a stir in the media, as desired, Bourdon’s lawsuit backfired due to the counter attack from Vinci Construction Company, which dared to challenge the lawsuit by filing a defamation case against the NGO. The counter-lawsuit filed by Vinci Construction against French NGO Sherpa made the organization liable to pay a sum of £405,000. Meanwhile, Sherpa’s Director Laetitia Liebert, and legal expert, Marie-Laure Guislain were jointly sued for £203,000. As a result, it was later announced by the public prosecutor of Nanterre, who fought on behalf of the construction company, that no further action would be carried out on the Sherpa-Vinci case following the lawsuit filed by the targeted firm.
Since then Sherpa spared white-collared businesses and began a war versus the financial crimes and human rights violation committed by the so-called ‘kleptocratic’ nations, with Africa as its target. Moreover, with a history of supporting bizarre cases like that of Kadhafi’s son, the Parisian lawyer, Bourdon only attracted the ‘wrong type’ of media attention by taking up unusual unconventional cases.