Equatoguinean Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue – and son of the president – has been found guilty of embezzlement in a French court. The ruling, issued on October 27, imposed a three-year prison sentence and a suspended fine of 30 million euros (US$34.8 million). It also confiscated assets held by the official in France, said to be worth 100 million euros (US$116 million).
The vice president denied the charges and was tried in absentia. He has previously been charged with similar offences in the US, reaching a settlement in October 2014 under which he paid around US$30 million.
Teodoro – known as Teodorin – denied the French claims and claimed immunity. His appointment to the position of vice president, in June 2016, was widely attributed to efforts to save him from prosecution.
The United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled in December 2016 that Teodorin was not immune from prosecution by virtue of his position in the government. It did, though, rule provisionally that a mansion owned by him in Avenue Foch be treated as a diplomatic residence.
The French court, in its ruling last week, ordered the mansion to be seized.
Teodorin amassed substantial wealth during his role as minister of forestry and infrastructure, using the money to buy houses around the world, a collection of cars and yachts and a Gulfstream jet. The vice president chronicled many of his purchases on his Instagram account.
The judgement on Teodorin serves as a warning for those close to other African leaders who are alleged to have stashed wealth in France. Cases are also under way against various associates of the ruling family of Congo Brazzaville.
In the past, Paris has been seen as using its historical ties with countries to foster a permissive relationship. Equatorial Guinea was not a French colony and France has only limited ties to the country. A probe into various members of the Gabon’s ruling family was ended, with no charges filed, in August.