France issued an arrest warrant late last month for the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, left, known as Teodorin or Teddy, is accused of laundering money from Equatorial Guinea for purchases in France of multi million dollar properties and a fleet of luxury cars.
Tutu Alicante, director of U.S.-based EG Justice, said the warrant “shows [Equatorial Guineans] that Teodorin and his father, his family, who for so many years have been looting all this money from the country, are not untouchable. It shows that they too can be subjected to justice.”
Prosecutors in France brought charges against Teodorin after Transparency International filed a legal complaint against him.
This week, the public prosecutor's office in Equatorial Guinea said it was considering possible slander charges against the head of Transparency International.
Alicante from EG Justice called on France to act quickly on the arrest warrant. 'We know that Teodorin for many, many years has been collecting not only luxury cars, but also a host of luxury items -- gloves from Michael Jackson, multi million dollar paintings from Monet,' Alicante said.
The younger Obiang is the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. His official salary is about $5,000 per month.
Late last year, the U.S. DOJ filed civil forfeiture complaints against him to recover $70.8 million in real and personal property located in the United States.
The DOJ said Teddy allegedly 'used his position and influence as a government minister for Equatorial Guinea to acquire criminal proceeds through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both Equatoguinean and U.S. law.'
The U.S. complaints alleged that Teddy used intermediaries and shell companies to acquire assets in the United States that included more than $1.8 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia, a $38.5 million Gulfstream G-V jet, a $30 million house in Malibu, California, and a 2011 Ferrari worth $530,000.
After France issued its arrest warrant, President Obiang publicly defended his son. He said in an interview with TV France 24 that Teodorin’s wealth could be traced to a company he owns involved with forestry and road-building. "He didn't take any money," the president said.
Sources: VOA and wire services
Photo courtesy of EG Justice