Oil firm confirmed request to fund coup in Madagascar

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Oil firm Benchmark Group said Monday it had been approached for funds to topple Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, days after the government said it had foiled an assassination plot.

Benchmark, a majority shareholder in crude extractor Madagascar Oil, said it had “received an email from the Madagascan-French citizen Paul R. soliciting 10 million euros for political destabilisation purposes”.

Local media houses had published the alleged email exchanges between Benchmark Group and the suspect, dating back to October.

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The emails were reportedly found on the suspect’s computer.

Benchmark could face prosecution for complicity in undermining state security as it had failed to inform Madagascan authorities.

On Saturday, local media, including the government communications agency Taratra, said police had summoned Madagascar Oil’s managing director as part of a probe into the alleged plan to assassinate the president.

Madagascar on Thursday said it had found evidence that some individuals had plotted to “eliminate and neutralise” various figures, including the president.

Six people, including two French citizens, have been arrested.

Video footage of the investigators searching the house of one of the two French suspects showed the discovery of more than 930,000 euros and a firearm.

News agency Taratra said that the alleged plotters also sought support from mining companies.

The president’s special adviser Patrick Rajoelina, hinted on France 24 that Madagascan military officers could also be involved in the plot.

At a brief news conference on Monday, Benchmark pledged its “full support” for the Madagascar government and condemned “strongly any action aimed at undermining the security of a democratically elected state”.

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