The Mystery Man: Etienne des Rosaies

The so-called Kazakhgate scan­dal first emerged in October 2012, when the French mag­a­zine Le Canard Enchainé pub­lished an inves­ti­ga­tion alleged­ly reveal­ing how France inter­fered with the Belgian leg­isla­tive process on behalf of Patokh Chodiev and his asociates.

The proof for this sce­nario was a note, dat­ed 28 June 2011, attrib­uted to Etienne des Rosaies, a per­son close to Sarkozy’s inner cir­cle. Who is des Rosaies, and what are we to make of his note?

A man with many missions

Jean-François Etienne des Rosaies was born in December 1941 in Blida, Algeria. He grad­u­at­ed from the Technical mil­i­tary school of the French Air Forces, and after grad­u­a­tion he took on many jobs – the most recur­rent one being that of chargé de mission.

Chronologically, he was chargé de mis­sion near President of Gabon, Omar Bongo (1970–1971), near the French Secretary of State at the Foreign Ministry, Pierre Billecoq (1972), near the pres­i­dent of the Compagnie générale des eaux (1976–1986), near the group of the European Democrats at the Europeann Parliament (1980–1983), near the French Minister of Security, Robert Pandraud (1986–1987), near the General Inspectorate of the Ile-de-France region (1996), near the General Director of the French Ministry of Home Affairs (1998), near the General Director of the French Police (2003), and, final­ly, near the French President Nicholas Sarkozy (2007–2009).

Des Rosaies is, or at least was, a man of many mis­sions. What mis­sions? Nobody knows for sure: var­i­ous col­lab­o­ra­tors of his stat­ed over the years that des Rosaies didn’t do what he was sup­posed to do, so his co-work­ers were unable to under­stand what exact­ly he was doing.

A sense of self-aggrandizement

No mat­ter what his mis­sions were, was he suc­cess­ful? Again, dif­fi­cult to say. For instance, between 1978 and 1979 des Rosaies was a tech­ni­cal advis­er of the Prime-Minister of Senegal, Abdou Diouf. However, when asked about des Rosaies some years lat­er, Abdou Diouf said he didn’t remem­ber him.

On the oth­er hand, in 1993 General Achille Lerche took des Rosaies as his spe­cial advi­sor to the French Interministry Intelligence Committee, based on des Rosaies’ expe­ri­ence as an intel­li­gence spe­cial­ist who worked as an “advi­sor” for African pres­i­dents. The same General Lerche sacked him a year lat­er, though, for lack of performance.

Etienne des Rosaies is also cred­it­ed for his role in the oper­a­tion that freed the French hostages in Lebanon in 1988, yet what exact­ly his role was is still unclear.

What he may lack in effi­cien­cy, des Rosaies com­pen­sates with pomp. He is an ardu­ous col­lec­tor of dec­o­ra­tions and hon­orary titles: he is an Officer of Légion d’honneur, a Knight of the National Order of Merit, a Knight – and then a Grand Officer – of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Des Rosaies was also award­ed the Gold Medal for Voluntary mil­i­tary ser­vices, the Honorary Medal of the French Foreign Affairs, and the Silver Medal of the City of Paris.

The fictive fixer

There is no doubt that Etienne des Rosaies belongs to the cir­cle of French intel­li­gence. He is, in this respect, a mys­tery man. There is also no doubt that he gen­er­al­ly ful­filled his mis­sions with at least a rea­son­able degree of success.

However, there is also no doubt, unfor­tu­nate­ly, that he tends to over­state his suc­cess and to attribute to him­self things that nev­er hap­pened. For instance, he acquired a rep­u­ta­tion as an “advi­sor” of var­i­ous African states­men. Yet one of them, the for­mer Prime-Minister of Senegal, was unable to remem­ber him and his ser­vices – and a French gen­er­al sacked him because he found out that his rep­u­ta­tion wasn’t backed by evidence.

The note that generated Kazakhgate

In the note pub­lished by Le Canard Enchainé, Etienne des Rosaies boasts to his employ­er that he man­aged to change the crim­i­nal law in Belgium, with the help of the for­mer pres­i­dent of the Belgian Senate, Armand De Decker, and so he thus solved the legal prob­lems faced by the Kazakh Trio com­pris­ing Patokh Chodiev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Mashkevitch.

The note is dat­ed 28 June 2011, after the Belgian par­lia­ment vot­ed the law extend­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of ami­ca­ble set­tle­ments (14 April 2011), and after the Kazakh Trio entered into a set­tle­ment with the Belgian pros­e­cu­tors in Brussels (17 June 2011).

One oth­er note and an email with a rather sim­i­lar con­tent sur­faced lat­er – both also dat­ed after the events took place (see here for more details:

From what we already know about des Rosaies, this looks like he is boast­ing, in his typ­i­cal man­ner, about things that he nev­er influ­enced – in order to main­tain his rep­u­ta­tion as a fixer.

If he tru­ly had influ­enced the leg­isla­tive process in Belgium, the log­i­cal thing would have been for him to report after the law was changed (or even ear­li­er, describ­ing his progress in influ­enc­ing the Belgian lawmakers).

Des Rosaies did noth­ing of this sort, and there is no evi­dence to sup­port his claims. On the con­trary, the pres­i­dent of the Kazakhgate inquiry com­mis­sion in the Belgian par­lia­ment stat­ed that “we have not been able to find any­thing that points to the inter­fer­ence of Armand De Decker or oth­er peo­ple relat­ed to Chodiev in the leg­isla­tive process.”

There is only one pos­si­ble con­clu­sion: Etienne des Rosaies found out that the Kazakh Trio entered into a set­tle­ment with the pros­e­cu­tors in Brussels, and he seized the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fic­tion­al­ize his con­tri­bu­tion by false­ly claim­ing that he was the one who made this hap­pen. After all, he did the same thing before, when cre­at­ing for him­self a rep­u­ta­tion of some­one who “advis­es” African presidents.

The con­clu­sion is strength­ened by the fact that in the note pub­lished by Le Canard Enchainé, des Rosaies says that De Decker is his cousin, while in the email with the same sub­ject he says that Chodiev is a close friend with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Both these infor­ma­tion are obvi­ous­ly false. It’s as if in the process of draft­ing his report, des Rosaies oscil­lat­ed between var­i­ous fic­tions meant to make him look important.

The Mystery Man: Etienne des Rosaies

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