Equatorial Guinea president's free-spending son faces French graft trial

2016-05-27 06:45
Teodorin Obiang (AFP)

Teodorin Obiang (AFP)

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Paris - French prosecutors have called for the son of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea's veteran ruler to be put on trial for embezzlement, corruption and stealing public funds, a judicial source told AFP on Thursday.

Teodorin Obiang, one of the country's vice presidents, is accused of looting state coffers to fund his lavish tastes, including the purchase of pop star Michael Jackson's famous white glove and sprawling properties in some of the world's most expensive areas, including Paris's famed Avenue Foch.

The source said a judge would decide whether to put him on trial.

If the go-ahead is given "it will be the first time in France, and even in Europe that such a high-ranking official from a country goes on the dock for ill-gotten wealth," Transparency International and Sherpa, a French association fighting economic crimes, said in a joint statement.

French prosecutors had earlier ordered the seizure of the Obiang family's six-storey mansion on Avenue Foch - one of the poshest addresses in Paris - as well as several luxury cars.

They also took away van-loads of possessions including paintings by famous artists, a $4.2 million clock and wines worth thousands a bottle.

The 46-year-old's father, Teodoro Obiang, has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron fist since seizing power in a military coup in 1979.

Human Rights Watch accuses the government of "serious abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials".

The younger Obiang has also been pursued by US authorities, who accused him of racking up more than $300m through embezzlement, extortion, and money laundering, while earning a government salary of less than $100 000 a year.

US prosecutors forced Obiang to turn over more than $30 million in ill-gotten gains - including a Malibu villa, a Ferrari and Michael Jackson memorabilia - in October 2014.

Read more on:    teodorin obiang  |  teodoro obiang  |  equatorial guinea  |  france  |  west africa

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