The ex-head of French oil giant Elf, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, has been extradited to the west African nation of Togo after his arrest in Ivory Coast in a fraud probe, a government source said Sunday.
Le Floch-Prigent's lawyer denounced the move, calling it an "abduction" and saying his client appeared to be the victim of internal politics in Togo.
"Loik Le Floch-Prigent was arrested yesterday (Saturday) in Abidjan," the Togolese government source told AFP. "He was extradited to Lome yesterday around 2000 GMT. He will be presented to a judge tomorrow for questioning."
The investigation involves a complaint from an Emirati businessman who alleges he was the victim of a $48-million (37-million-euro) fraud.
Togo's former minister of territorial administration, Pascal Bodjona, has been charged over the allegations as well as Togolese businessman Bertin Sow Agba.
A judicial source in Togo has said that the Emirati businessman, Abbas Al Yousef, claims Le Floch-Prigent was acting as his personal advisor during the alleged fraud.
Patrick Klugman, lawyer for Le Floch-Prigent, questioned the move against his client.
"(This is) an abduction and in no way an extradition, because my client was arrested and handed over to the Togolese authorities without the intervention of any judicial authority," he said.
"My client is the object of an internal Togolese political affair and I am not convinced that he is really being held over an embezzlement probe."
The lawyer said he feared for his client's health and that the 69-year-old had a medical appointment in France on September 26.
The case involves a complex set of circumstances, with accusations that a network claimed to have access to $275 million in a Togolese account left by former Ivorian military ruler Robert Guei, who was killed in 2002.
Al Yousef alleges $48 million was embezzled from him in the affair.
Le Floch-Prigent, currently an oil industry consultant, has already served jail terms in France for corruption while head of Elf from 1989 to 1993.
Several Elf senior managers were jailed after a corruption scandal that broke in the 1990s. The company was taken over by French oil giant Total in 2000.
Le Floch-Prigent, who was first jailed for five months in France in 1996 for misuse of company assets, claimed at the time that Elf had been "considered as an arm of the state's foreign policy".
He was jailed again in 2003 on other charges and freed on probation in 2004 on health grounds, on condition that he pay compensation, at a rate based on his own revenues, to Total for the case involving Elf.
He was sent back to jail for six months in 2010 for failing to pay adequate compensation to Total.
Togo, a nation of some six million people under French control prior to independence in 1960, has been run by the same family for more than four decades.
The military installed President Faure Gnassingbe in power after the 2005 death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled with an iron fist for 38 years. He has since won elections in 2005 and 2010.