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Equatorial Guinea: Teodoro Obiang Nguema and Son Face French Justice System

[All links in French unless otherwise indicated.]

The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, appeared more offended than concerned to find himself listed among 30 leaders, four of them from Africa, who have stolen from their people assets estimated at several billion dollars. This is according to a report published in 2009 by the Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development (CCFDT – Terre Solidaire)  entitled “Ill gotten goods, who does crime profit”?

According to Reporters without Borders, the Equatorial Guinean president, who is presented by the national radio in his country as an “Equatorial Guinean God”, lodged a complaint against the authors of the report.  However, the 17th chamber of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, dismissed the case on October 7, 2011.

A blog from an association called Survie, reports:

Teodoro Obiang complained particularly about certain passages in the report, indicating that he established a “real authoritarian regime” and that his clan amassed a fortune estimated between 500 and 700 million dollars, from the diversion of oil revenue.

As far as the tribunal was concerned, the cautionary wording, the abundance in testimony and references in the incriminating report, demonstrated the honesty of the writers of the report. Moreover, the tribunal ordered the president of Equatorial Guinea, to pay 2,500 euros to each of the four he accused, for the abusive nature of his complaint.

Further down on the same post, the following remark appears:

At the outset of the hearing, President Obiang's lawyers, lamented the present day climate in France as being unfavourable towards African leaders.

Afriquejet.com published the following story from PANA (Panafrican Press Agency):

Moreover, the report affirms that this wealth was derived from the diversion of oil revenue and that 80% of the national income would have been monopolized by the oligarchy in power in Malabo. In its document, the association accuses the leader of Equatorial Guinea and 10 members of his family, of having laundered 26.5 million dollars in real estate purchases between 2000 and 2003.  The president would also have acquired a mansion on Avenue Foch in Paris.

This decision took place within a few days of the Paris police seizing 11 luxury cars belonging to 43 year old Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, also known as “Teodorin”, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and son of the president.

France-Guineeequatoriale.org states the following specifics:

The eleven vehicles seized at the time of the search, were 2 Bugatti Veyrons, 1 Maserati MC12, 1 Porsche Carrera GT, 1 Ferrari Enzo and 1 Ferrari 59 GTO, 1 Aston Martin V8 V600 LM, 1 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 1 Drophead Coupe, 1 Bentley Azure and 1 Bentley Brooklands Coupe, from 500 to 1001 horsepower and from 200,000 to approximately 2 milion euros an item.

The operation decided upon by the French justice system, took place right in front of residents and passersby at 42 Avenue Foch, in the beautiful districts of Paris, a stone's throw away from the Arc de Triomphe.

The blog mentions that the opulent-looking building of more than 2,000 m² could also belong to Teodorin, adding that:

Last September 21st, the two judges Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman, in charge of the case of “ill gotten goods ” (BMA,) had already ordered a search of the mansion.

Caradisiac.com published a letter from Patrick Garcia showing a video of the 11 vehicles.

Contrary to what the powers in Malabo might suggest, this action is not deemed a persecution.  It had to do with new developments in the “ill gotten goods” affair and is dificult to disociate from French media revelations, the dubious accumulation of wealth regarding the financing of political parties by African dictators.

According a letter published on Afrik.com:

The public prosecutor's office in Paris, proceeded Wednesday with a search of the offices of lawyers and notaries within the context of the investigation of the “ill gotten goods” in France, of African heads of state, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congo, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and the late Gabonese president, Omar Bongo Ondimba.

The powers in Malabo, felt compelled to publish a press release to voice their protest.  The site afreekelection.com published a letter citing:

According to Malabo, the seizure of several vehicles on Wednesday, belonging to the Equatorial Guinean president's family, took place just two days prior to a new meeting that was to be held in Paris to deal with the cost of the creation of Unesco-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The presentation of this award, created in 2008, was suspended in 2010 following protests from NGO human rights activists and high profile personalities such as Nobel Peace prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

The denunciation of this initiative, started bearing fruit because after lengthy discussions the case was postponed until the following spring.

With a per capita income estimated in 2010 at $14,540, the 668,225 inhabitants of Equatorial Guinea are classified as being among the wealthiest populations among non-OCDE countries. This is only according to the statistics. In reality, the wealth attributed to its leaders is quite different from that of the population.

Even though this country is the third largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, its people live in poverty. Access to drinking water and electricity is a dream for many.  Life expectancy in 2009 was 62.37 years, classifying it at 180th place in the world, behind other African countries of lesser wealth, that are better managed.

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