Monday, January 2, 2017

The folly of Obiang before the court – The Figaro

Hotel particular, collections of cars and works of art… the son of the president of equatorial Guinea continued in France to be accumulated for one hundred million euros of “ill-gotten gains”.

The correctional court of Paris has opened on Monday a folder of the most awaited in the palace the african. The magistrates working on the “ill-gotten gains”, these luxury residences, boats or cars, and properties of dignitaries in africa that the French justice is suspected of being the fruits of an unbridled corruption.

judges have started to examine the case of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, said Teodorin, the son and putative heir of the president of equatorial Guinea, in power since 1979. The man, now 47 years of age, is not the best known of the “babies-presidents”, but it itself is a kind of caricature of what may be the elites of the regimes kleptocrats.

lawyers for Teodorin Obiang will have done everything to ensure that this trial does not begin. They were first referred to the Court of cassation, arguing that the diplomatic immunity that would be passed on to their client, one time minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and promoted in June to vice-president. But the Court has rejected, believing that the facts complained of had been committed “for personal reasons”. They are then brought to the international Court of justice (ICJ). Without success for the moment. Monday, one of the lawyers, Emmanuel Marsigny, has requested an adjournment, ensuring that the deadlines are “much too short” for the defense. The accused, himself, was absent. The court will say on Wednesday whether he defers or not the debates.

In 2009, Teodorin Obiang, had thus become the owner of 109 lots, for 18 million euros, during the dispersal of the collection of Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint-Laurent.

Obiang and his entourage seem to be above all fear the disastrous effects will be the unpacking public of the huge fortune accumulated by Teodorin Obiang in France. Play-boy unrepentant, still cinched in tailored suits, Teodorin denies himself nothing. The investigators have exhumed the remains of an extraordinary heritage. The jewel of the collection is, no doubt, his hotel particular in paris, several thousands of m2, course, avenue Foch. Purchased in 2005, extensively renovated to house a sauna and a cinema room, the building would be 107 million euros. The police have also seized cars, luxury it goes without saying, including a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche, a Ferrari… But for the experts, the most difficult was probably to estimate his works of art In 2009, Teodorin Obiang, had thus become the owner of 109 lots, for 18 million euros, during the dispersal of the collection of Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint-Laurent. The accused is a buyer-compulsive disorder. All of the properties listed were acquired between 2005 and 2011, and paid in cash, or purchased by businesses, including the Somagui Forestal, the forestry company he controlled.

For the co-investigating judges, there is no doubt that the heritage “out of the ordinary” to Teodorin Obiang could not have been financed “by her only income officials” but by investing the proceeds of “misappropriation of public funds”. They point out that almost 110 million euros from the public Treasury of equatorial Guinea came to be credited to his private account during the period. And that his salary as a minister, about 80,000 dollars per year, did not allow this train of life.

His setbacks before the French courts are only a part of his legal troubles

The richness of his native country should not serve as a mitigating circumstance. If the people of equatorial Guinea, a small country lost in central Africa, has experienced a real economic boom after the discovery of oil in 1996, with approximately 750.000 inhabitants have benefited little. Roads and infrastructure have been built but more than half of equatoguineans still live under the poverty line.

According to Me Marsigny, Teodorin Obiang “has never challenged to be the owner of the building, nor to have bought a number of cars.” But “what are the funds he legally earned in his country.” For Willam Bourdon, lawyer for Transparency International, the association to the origin of the complaint, this lawsuit is “without precedent in Europe and beyond”. “The chapter Obiang will close but others will open”, he says. The lawyer was not wrong, when he thinks of the upcoming procedures in the “ill-gotten gains” against the president of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, the former head of State of central african republic, François Bozizé, or against the heirs of the deceased Omar Bongo.

For this which is to close the case of Teodorin Obiang, nothing is written. His setbacks before the French courts are only a part of his legal troubles. The magistrates of geneva, who is suspected of laundering, were seized in November, a new series of luxury cars. And in the United States, in 2014, he has already had to deal with the justice system – what his lawyers are challenging – and can drop to 30 million dollars worth of goods, of which an inevitable collection of cars.


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