alligator shoes, palaces and grands crus… the luxurious life of Lucien Ebata – Liberation
The 53-year-old businessman spent lavishly, especially in France, a fortune from Congolese oil. Generally in cash, and not forgetting to water the relatives and dignitaries of the Sassou-Nguesso regime.
Release shows the workings of what could be one of the main channels for the transfer of Congolese oil revenues, from Paris to Brazzaville via Switzerland and Monaco. In question, the Orion Oil company and its boss, Lucien Ebata, are close to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and have many relationships with French economic and political personalities. Find all our articles here.
“What car did you get?” On the phone, Lucien Ebata apparently disappeared on December 6, 2016, according to a conversation intercepted by judicial customs investigators. The dealer, based in Paris, laughed and replied: “Well, the one you ordered from us.” The boss of the Orion group couldn’t remember which car it was. However, this is not a used city car but a white convertible Bentley. The seller recalled during the conversation that there was still a balance of 274,435 euros to be paid. A straw. The businessman may have a fading memory because he owned a lot of cars in France at the time: two Land Rover station wagons, two Porsche Cayennes, a Bentley Continental, a Mercedes E-Class and a Fiat 500. He’s missing something. .
Is Lucien Ebata’s wealth counted in millions or billions of euros? Mystery. The 53-year-old Canadian-Congolese does not appear in the rankings of the ultra-rich usually published by the magazine Forbes, where he owns a franchise for French-speaking Africa. Facing an investigative judge, on December 20, 2021, Lucien Ebata assures that his “annual income” is between 1 and 5 million euros. Figures that seem to be underappreciated because of his delusional lifestyle, very well documented in the judicial investigation in which he was accused in France. It is an understatement to say that Lucien Ebata leads the high life, financed by cash, which investigators believe stems from an elaborate system of embezzlement of public funds in Congo-Brazzaville. A sophisticated montage that benefits dignitaries of the Denis Sassou-Nguesso regime, but also Ebata himself.
Asked in police custody in October 2021 about possible money laundering, the businessman said: “I reject this analysis.” Contacted release, Lucien Ebata, presumed innocent, answered in the voice of his lawyer, Me Antoine Vey: “We apologize for the breach of confidentiality […]. This revelation causes great damage to the reputation of Mr. Ebata and his group.”
A hefty addition of 5,594 euros
In Paris, one of the Orion boss’s favorite boutiques is the Zilli clothing store, near the Champs-Elysées. Invoices show he spent more than 235,000 euros there in 2011 and 2012 – in cash. On December 8, 2011, he raided the shelves, reducing the cost of 38,000 euros in one visit to get suits, shirts, pants and a pair of alligator shoes for 3,600 euros.
For his meals in Paris, Lucien Ebata appreciates the cuisine of Laurent, a luxury restaurant in the 8th arrondissement. On May 31, 2012, along with ten guests, he survived a hefty bill of 5,594 euros, paid in cash. The menu is excellent: foie gras, langoustines, sections of turbot, lobster, pork trotters, all washed down with a Château d’Yquem 1961 and a Mouton Rothschild at 1,150 euros each.
In Paris where his wife and children live, the boss of Orion does not own any real estate. On the other hand, he is the owner in other countries, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Spain, in South Africa… This inheritance amounts to several million euros, according to traces of banking operations that investigators found. In Paris, he lived for a long time on rue Beaujon, near the Arc de Triomphe, for a monthly rent of 5,500 euros. The family moved to Avenue Marceau, near the Champs-Elysées. During a search of his home in May 2017, judicial customs discovered that the businessman was particularly fond of expensive watches. They found nine, including the Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard and Dior brands. They were the subject of an expert estimate, which established a range from 38,200 to 56,850 euros for the whole.
A hotel bill of 493,000 euros
To travel, Lucien Ebata uses private planes frantically. In a note dated June 22, 2017, Tracfin, Bercy’s financial intelligence service, said that the company Jet Monde invoiced various business companies for almost 7 million euros in services inside of three years. Lucien Ebata does not benefit from this wonderful life alone: he maintains a wide circle of relatives, friends and associates, as well as a network of Congolese officials, relationships that should be valued for protection of his business and his status. A whole little world that appreciates the palaces of Paris. French investigators have recovered from the Peninsula, the businessman’s favorite grand hotel, large bills in his name or those closest to him. Published on July 14, 2017 after occupying for a month and a half two rooms – including 111, one of the most expensive suites – one of which costs 493,000 euros.
One of the frequent and expensive guests of the Orion boss is undoubtedly the former finance minister of the Congo Calixte Mengapao. The latter was entitled, between 2016 and 2018, when he was a member of the government, to approximately sixty all-expense paid nights in the best establishments, at a total cost of 278,000 euros. This main character of the Brazzaville regime, former head of the National Petroleum Company of Congo, is all the attention of Ebata. Shortly after Mengapao was appointed to the government in May 2016, the businessman ordered 60,500 euros worth of leather goods and shoes from a store on the Champs-Elysées. For the occasion, the shopkeeper was sent to Brazzaville to get the minister’s size. Was this a gesture intended to secure the good graces of the great treasurer? “It is possible when Mr. Why? [est] became Minister of Finance, he came to me to advise him about clothes and shoes,” answered Lucien Ebata in police custody in October 2021. A true friend.