France shells out for Ivory Coast bank robbery

22nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Feb 21 (AFP) - France has compensated the west African central bank for some EUR 160,000 (USD 209,000) stolen last year by French peacekeepers in a bank robbery in rebel-held Ivory Coast, the bank said Monday.

ABIDJAN, Feb 21 (AFP) - France has compensated the west African central bank for some EUR 160,000 (USD 209,000) stolen last year by French peacekeepers in a bank robbery in rebel-held Ivory Coast, the bank said Monday.

A French military judge on Friday issued the funds to the central bank, which was hit by a string of bank robberies over the course of the unrest in the former French colony, all of which occurred in the rebel zone.

At least 12 French peacekeepers were implicated in the robbery in September in the western city of Man. Three of the alleged culprits were released earlier this month.

Bank deputy director Fernand Kone Mamadou declined, however, to say just how much money had been returned by the French military.

Ivory Coast, once a regional powerhouse with a robust cocoa-based economy, remains wracked by conflict since a failed bid in September 2002 by rebels to oust Gbagbo. Two years later, the country is still divided into rebel-held north and government-run south.

Robberies in the central rebel stronghold of Bouake netted thieves some EUR 30 million in September 2003. French peacekeepers on the ground in Bouake, Ivory Coast's second city, were able to scoop up another EUR 57,000 in the chaos that followed.

The string of robberies is considered one of the main reasons that the west African central bank embarked on an exhaustive and expensive campaign to replace its entire 1992 series of banknotes with a new, more secure series of bills in circulation since 2003.

Some 40 percent of all the bills in circulation across the eight west African states that use the CFA franc were spent in Ivory Coast.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article