Three-quarters of people in Equatorial Guinea do not have access to the Internet, but Theodoro Obiang Mangue is not one of them.
The vice-president of this African country, who is the son of the current president, flies 116,000 followers on Instagram with photos of a high lifestyle: riding in a water jacket, riding in an F1 race car, a trip to the Carnival. He reportedly found himself with a $ 100 million building in Paris, a $ 38 million plane, a Ferraris, an Aston Martins and a number of Michael Jackson memorabilia. including a “The $ 275,000 top-down glove that Jackson wore on his ‘Bad’ tour.”
Anti-corruption investigators say his heinous spending was funded by the government and should be stopped. This week, the British government convicted Obiang of widespread bribery, while allegations he has spent more than $ 500 million illegally since becoming prime minister in 1998. Under the sanctions, Obiang’s assets will be restricted and he will be banned from entering the UK
“The actions we have taken today are aimed at those who have lost their pockets at the expense of their citizens,” said Foreign Minister Dominique Raab in a statement. statement. “Corruption destroys the wealth of poor countries, keeps its people in poverty, and poisons the well of democracy.”
The government of Equatorial Guinea did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Obiang respond in a message to his personal Instagram account, although he had previously denied the offense. Online, he predicts a calm weather. On Friday morning, he posted a couple of photos on his Instagram page, which were placed next to a luxurious chair and smile in a bright purple blazer.
Mailyon Obiang started to do beautiful things from a young age. He reportedly went to a private high school in Normandy, France, then took English classes at Pepperdin University, where he rode in a limousine and sat in a rented house in Malibu and the Beverly Wilshere Hotel, according to a 2007 report from the university. the newspaper. The newspaper reported that he rarely attended classes and was eventually asked to leave the program early.
Soon, Obiang joined the government of Equatorial Guinea. It was a family affair; Obiang’s father, Theodoro Obiang Nguyema Mbasogo, took power from his uncle in a 1979 coup and has ruled since then.
It was a good time to join the family business, as Equatorial Guinea significantly expanded its oil exploration program. “It was one of the poorest countries when oil was discovered in the 90s, and it was also a country with very little administrative infrastructure,” Sarah Saadoun, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher, told the Daily Beast. Sa’dun says the new fortune quickly found its way into the president’s pocket and inner circle. “[The younger Obiang] with the shamelessness of how he spends this money is unique. ”
Obiang is said to have found other ways to enrich himself. For example, while serving as minister of agriculture and forestry, he “introduced a large‘ revolutionary ’tax on wood, but insisted that payments be made directly to him” or to a company according to which in 2007. was note from the U.S. Department of Justice. (Equatorial Guinea has stated that these actions were legal.)
The Justice Department reported that the official salary of the Obiang government at the time was $ 60,000. But from April 2005 to the end of 2006, on his behalf, “at least $ 73 million was transferred to the U.S.” and $ 35 million was spent to buy a house in Malibu and $ 33.8 million for a plane.
Later, legal turmoil ensued. In 2014, the U.S. government settled corruption charges against Obiang and he agreed to confiscate more than $ 30 million in assets. Three years later, a French court found him (in absentia) guilty of embezzlement, sentenced him to three years probation and imprisoned tens of millions of dollars. One major point of contention was a huge mansion in Paris that served as Obiang’s private residence. The government of Equatorial Guinea has said the checkpoint is diplomatic, but a UN tribunal has ruled. later dismissed the claim.
Meanwhile, in 2018, the Brazilian government reportedly confiscated about $ 1.5 million in cash and 15 million hours brought to the country by Obiang and his delegation. (Equatorial Guinea has declared the search illegal.) Foreigners can bring up to $ 2,400 in cash to Brazil under domestic law; it was not a close call.
In the case of the United Kingdom, sanctions restrictions are reviewed on a regular basis and at least every three years. Obiang can also lobby for their elimination.
Legal problems have shed light on the deep inequality in Equatorial Guinea. It is the richest country in Africa, measured in terms of GDP per capita. At the same time, according to the World Bank, one third of the population is deprived of basic sanitation services.
For global governments, the challenge will be to absorb funds and ensure that they are not re-implemented. When the Swiss government put $ 27 million worth of Obiang cars up for auction in 2019, the most valuable among them, Koenigsegg One: 1, was reportedly found again in its collection.
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