Abdelhak Senna / AFP - Getty Images, file
A file picture showing Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the Equatorial Guinea president, speaking in his home country.
Detailed allegations of massive corruption and theft in Equatorial Guinea have been filed in a court by the U.S. Department of Justice as it seeks to recover assets - including a $30 million mansion in Malibu and Michael Jackson’s studded white tour glove– from the playboy son of the Africa country’s president.
The D.o.J. filing, made this week, accuses Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue of defrauding the U.S. banking system in order to channel ill-gotten funds from his homeland into property, luxury cars and even a private jet in the U.S.
The filing is viewable in this PDF document hosted on the website of anti-corruption charity, Global Witness.
It is the latest stage of an attempt by the U.S. government to seize assets worth $71 million – a move triggered by a 2004 Senate report that alleged U.S. banks failed to monitor suspicious transactions from regimes, including that of Equatorial Guinea.
It alleges Teodoro, who was appointed Forestry Minister by his father in the 1990s and who reportedly once dated the rapper Eve, forced the country’s timber companies to pay him personally approximately 10 percent of the value of all the wood harvested for export in exchange for their export licenses.
It also alleges he received tens of millions of dollars in payments from fraudulently inflated construction contracts in Equatorial Guinea.
“This filing provides significantly more detail on allegations of corruption against Teodorin Obiang. It further validates concerns that Global Witness has raised over the years about Teodorin’s source of funds that sustain his luxury lifestyle,” said Robert Palmer, a campaigner with Global Witness.
Prosecutors hope the evidence will be enough to allow the U.S. to recover the assets acquired in California, including the Malibu home - a 15,000-sqaure-foot mansion with eight bathrooms set on 19 acres of grounds overlooking the Pacific. The property, at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, includes a swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears and Kelsey Grammer as neighbors according to a 2006 Forbes report that listed its purchase as among the highest-value real estate transactions of that year nationwide.
Smaller assets include more than $1 million of Michael Jackson memorabilia bought at auction following the singer’s death, such as the $275,000 studded white glove worn on the ‘Bad’ tour.
The latest court filing also gives details on purchases being examined by foreign governments, such as a $15 million house in Sao Paolo, Brazil, a $1m diamond-studded Piaget watch and more than $7 million in renovations to the playboy’s home in Paris.
Teodoro’s father - President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - has ruled the former Spanish colony since a 1979 coup, making him one of the longest-serving African leaders following the demise of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.
Although his country is only the size of Maryland and has a population of less than 700,000, it is strategically significant to the U.S. as it produces about 240,000 barrels of oil per day. The New York Times has reported that decades of repression and “systematic” torture have created a culture of fear in Equatorial Guinea. It said American oil companies have billions of dollars invested there.
Father and son posed with President Obama in a picture taken by the State Department in 2009, while President Teodoro was welcomed to Washington D.C. by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006.
In January, Teodoro asked a U.S. court to dismiss attempts by the Obama administration to seize the assets, denying charges that they were obtained with allegedly corrupt funds taken from his country.
He argued he had not violated U.S. or Equatorial Guinea law and called the corruption allegations "character assassination" against him and his country.
Details of his incredible lifestyle have been reported extensively by Foreign Policy.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the Equatorial Guinea embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
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