11 February 2020
A French court on Monday ruled against Teodorin Obiang, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a 3 year-long embezzlement process launched by both Sherpa and Transparency International. He was ordered him to pay a €30 million ($32.9 million) fine. Obiang said that money for the payment of fines will need to come out of Equatorial Guinea’s coffers.
Previously a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money laundering and imposed a suspended jail term of three years. At that time authorities seized his six-level mansion in Paris valued at €107 million and fleet of expensive cars. French authorities did not seize the 101-room Avenue Foch mansion in Paris as it is the location of the Equatorial Guinean embassy in Paris. Previously the embassy was in another location but was moved to the Avenue Foch mansion to protect it from being seized.
Obiang,50, is the most likely successor of the President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the impoverished country for more than four decades. He has one final option for appeal left. He could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
Last year, Swiss authorities seized a fleet of 25 luxury cars from Obiang and sold them for €21 million and used the funds to finance social work in Equatorial Guinea.
In 2014, the US Justice Department forced him to give up more than $30 million in assets, including a Malibu mansion.
Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a country located on the west coast of Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq. mi). It has a population of about 1.3 million. The country is currently ruled by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Reporters Without Borders ranked him among its “predators” of press freedom.