SOCIETY

Two Malagasy citizens wanted by Interpol for fraud against investors.

 

If political crisis can refrain investors from investing in Madagascar, Malagasy faulty behavior worsens the situation. Three members of a Franco-malagasy family from Diego Suarez are actually wanted by Interpol for fraud against Top South African investors in tourism known as « The Kisimani Consortium » in this affair. In November 2017, three arrest warrants against Ghislain Gaspard, Jacqueline Benivo and their son Geoffrey  Michel Gaspard were issued by South African Police in Cape Town which after registered their name with Interpol on Mid-January 2018.

 

The Kisimani Island in the line of sight …

 The story dates back to 2014 when growing tourism investment in Madagascar was the priority of Bary Rafatrolaza, Madagascar Consular General in Cape Town in 2014 who had as Economic Adviser as one of the four investors composing  the  Kisimani Consortium. A name that cames from the island of Kisimani (13°34’56S – 48°05’41E) located in the District d’Ambanja - Northwest which was identified as an area for possible investment that could benefit the most from introducing tourism and employment. As for every investment requiring land use in Madagascar, the need of a lease from Government arose.

 

55 600 Euros stolen by the Gaspard family

 

Geoffrey Michel Gaspard known as Billy, founder of « Igers gasy », the Community of Instagram in Madagascar was the investor’s first contact in South Africa to get the lease. This latter who at that time, studied and lived in Cape Town assured investors his parents can do the necessary to get the lease in his name through a letter of assignment. After a meeting in Cape Town with Ms Benivo and Geoffrey, a cession agreement was signed on 6 August 2014 between Geoffrey and the Consortium stating that once the lease is signed by Government, Geoffrey is supposed to transfer all rights to investors for them to take over  the lease. In the beginning, a sum of 7000 € was mentionned by Ms Benivo to be sufficient to get the lease signed by Government, the money was given in cash in Nosy Be in 11 August 2014.    

 

 

The initial amount was never enough. To date, a total of 55 600 Euros was  stolen by the Gaspard family,  transferred in multiple instalments into their bank account in France and Madagascar and sometimes given in person to Geoffrey at investor’s office in Blouberg – Cape Town.  Still, On 11 December 2015, Mr Ghislain Gaspard sent an email to investors affirming he got « true ownership » of the property which is better than a lease. It’s only later a laywer told investors it’s impossible to own an island but only lease regarding the Malagasy Legislation on Land Ownership Article 18 of 17 October 2005 in which it’s clearly stated that the sale of islands are prohibited and may only be leases from the State.

 

A conspiracy from the beginning … 

 In March 2016, the lease was finally signed by Government but Geoffrey refused (until now) to transfer ownership to investors suggesting the cession agreement is no longer valid. In addition to this, Ms Benivo purpusefully inserted into the lease with Government a clause whereby the lease may not be forwarded to another party.  After many attempts to resolve the issue, it as clear that they had no intention in honoring the cession agreement and they had colluded from the start to defraud investors. It’s also confirmed when  Mr Ghislain said he would transfer the lease only if investors paid him 1 Millions €.

 

 The affair was introduced to Ambanja Court in 2016 and conclusion from judge should be pronounced in 9 February 2018. The last email from defendant’s lawyer to investors was of 29 January 2018 suggested the sale of the lease to the tune 350 175 € which deducted from the 55 600 € gives the final amount of 294 575 €.  

 While money is not the first issue for investors, the negative impact for Madagascar is of a great concern and significance. Many people and investors in South Africa are aware of this affair who now prefer not to invest in Madagascar. For the country where tourism is an invaluable pillar for its economy, this act  constitutes a wrong turn.  Ghislain, Jacqueline and Geoffrey’s were registered with Interpol under references number 2018/w/65   -  2018/w/60 and 2018/w/1411.  So far, they are the first Malagasy Interpol has issued Red Notice for.

 

Published on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 10:36
Written by F. RAFIDIHARINIRINA