Revelations alleging French political manipulation in Central Africa’s oil zone has led to soul searching among the Parisian commentariat over the nature and extent of the country's post-colonial reach.

Minutes obtained by French online journal Mediapart of testimony submitted to examining magistrate Dominique Blanc last November by ex-chief executive of Elf Aquitaine (now Total) Loik Le Floch-Prigent exposed a web of corporate corruption.

Le Floch-Prigent was jailed in 2003 for his part in operating a system of illicit payments to African and French officials and again, in 2013, in Togo on unrelated fraud charges.