It was with great sadness that Transparency International learned last week of the passing of Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa, a leading light in the fight against corruption in his home country of Gabon and beyond, and 2010 winner of Transparency International’s Integrity Award.
A celebrated activist, advocate and journalist, Ngbwa Mintsa risked much to defend the interests of the Gabonese people. His bravery sets a true precedent for challenging impunity.
In 2008, Ngbwa Mintsa joined forces with Transparency International France and Sherpa to file a legal complaint against three current and former presidents suspected of large-scale embezzlement of public funds: Republic of Congo’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang and Gabon’s Omar Bongo. Ngbwa Mintsa dared to question the legality of the luxury purchases made by the former president of his country while a third of the population of Gabon live in poverty.
– Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa
The landmark case became known as Biens Mal Acquis (“ill-gotten gains”) and has led to the seizure of luxury properties, sports cars and a private jet, with the investigation still ongoing. In a recent development, the Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea was placed under formal investigation for alleged money-laundering.
As a Gabonese taxpayer, Ngbwa Mintsa sought redress for the damages caused not only to himself but to the Gabonese nation as a whole.
– Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa
The entire Transparency International movement and more than 1,500 members of the anti-corruption community paid tribute to Ngbwa Mintsa during the 2010 Integrity Awards ceremony at the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok.
“What difference is there between someone who is prosecuted for crimes against humanity for decimating a village through fire and blood, and someone who gets the red carpet rolled out for them, despite the fact that they have stolen the assets that would have allowed people to be born, to grow up, to be fed, to be educated, to be healed, to work, to love, to start a family, to raise their children, to leave them a better world and to die in peace?” – Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa in his acceptance speech for Transparency International’s Integrity Award at the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, 2010
In a 2012 interview, he explained the motivation behind his actions:
“I did this so that people would stop being afraid, and so that they would realise that it is the people themselves who must stop allowing anyone to be considered above the law.”
Transparency International’s deepest sympathies go out to Ngbwa Mintsa’s family, friends and colleagues. He will remain an inspiration to the Transparency International movement and anti-corruption activists all over the world for many years to come.
Read Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa’s acceptance speech for the 2010 Integrity Awards here.
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