French trial of E Guinea leader's son set for January 2

2016-10-25 06:00
Teodorin Obiang (AFP)

Teodorin Obiang (AFP)

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Paris - The son of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea's veteran ruler will go on trial on January 2 on charges of plundering his country to fund a jet-set lifestyle in France, a Paris court decided on Monday.

Teodorin Obiang, 47, was not in court for the announcement, and his lawyer's office did not accept a letter notifying them of Monday's hearing.

Promoted by his father Teodoro Obiang Nguema to vice president in June, Teodorin Obiang is accused of using the proceeds of corruption and embezzlement to fund an array of purchases, from private jets and top properties to pop star Michael Jackson's famous white glove.

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The trial will be the first arising from a series of landmark investigations in France into the allegedly ill-gotten gains of a handful of African leaders.

With Obiang unlikely to attend the proceedings, the trial "may be symbolic more than anything," a source close to the case said.

Misuse if public funds 

Prosecutors will show Obiang amassed French assets worth several tens of millions of euros between 2007 and 2011, "either directly or through front men or shell companies", a source close to the investigation said.

Obiang was agriculture minister in the tiny central African nation at the time, earning a government salary of under $100 000 a year.

He will face charges of laundering the proceeds of corruption, embezzlement, misuse of public funds and breach of trust.

Equatorial Guinea has become sub-Saharan Africa's third-biggest oil producer in recent years, with oil revenues accounting for more than 70% of national income, but the wealth has not trickled down.

Obiang's father, who has ruled the former Spanish colony with an iron fist since 1979, is Africa's longest-serving leader, extending his rule in April when he was re-elected with 93.7% of the vote.

Read more on:    equatorial guinea  |  west africa

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