Inquiry into Mauritius ex-president begins

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Mauritius’ former President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who resigned in March over an expenses scandal, has appeared in front of a government inquiry for questioning.

Ms Gurib-Fakim denies any misconduct amid claims that she made large personal purchases on a charity bank card.

She told the inquiry that, when in office, she had set up an inquiry into the activities of Angolan businessman Álvaro Sobrinho because she felt under pressure.

Before her resignation, the Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items.

According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.

One of the organisation’s directors is Álvaro Sobrinho who, the paper says, secured a permit to found an investment bank in Mauritius, prompting allegations of favouritism.

The inquiry that Ms Gurib-Fakim launched earlier this year was roundly criticised at the time by the government, who said it was not within her powers to do so.

She defended that decision today, saying “there was a sense of isolation, total lack of support from the executive…There was no will whatsoever to help the office of the president”.

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“The Attorney General told me that he could not do anything while the office of the presidency was under attack.”

She also told the inquiry she had been advised not to speak to the press.

The inquiry is expected to continue for a number of days.

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