Equatorial Guinea vice president's supercars seized to fund development programs

Screenshot from coverage from French channel France 24 on President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue's “incredible fortune” via YouTube.

Known for his playboy lavish lifestyle, Equatorial Guinea Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue was prosecuted by The Geneva Prosecutor’s Office in Switzerland, and 25 of his supercars were seized and auctioned by Swiss authorities. The proceeds of this auction will fund social programs in this west African state, where the majority of the population survives with less than a dollar a day.

The political man also known under the name “Tindordin” has benefitted from solid legal immunity, allowing him to escape justice following a number of accusations of misuse of public funds and money laundering. Indeed, he is the son of the current president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea with a steel hand for more than 40 years.

However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in 2019 that after years of impunity, international justice has finally proceeded with legal proceedings against Obiang in many countries where he has had business dealings.

Following this worldwide investigation, the Geneva auction of Obiang's collection of 25 supercars has brought more than 18 million dollars.

The website coupsfrancs.com provides more details on this auction:

Sept Ferrari, cinq Bentley, une Maserati et une Aston Martin figurent au catalogue de cette vente aux enchères qui a lieu le 29 septembre à Genève. Ce trésor est estimé à plus de 17 millions d’euros avec quelques pépites : les lots les plus chers sont deux hypercars, une Lamborghini Veneno Roadster blanc cassé, vendue autour de 5 millions d’euros, et une Ferrari hybride jaune d’une valeur de 2,5 millions d’euros…

On ne compte pas le parc automobile des autres pays européens et de la Guinée Équatoriale où Teodorin collectionne tous types de véhicules et motos de luxe.

Seven Ferraris, five Bentleys, a Maserati and an Aston Martin were part of this auction on the 29 September in Geneva. This treasure is estimated to be worth more than 17 million euros [$18,773,440 United States dollars] with a couple of highlights: a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster rang up to 5 million euros [$5,521,600 USD] and a yellow Ferrari hybrid raking in 2.5 million euros [$2,760,800 USD]…

We are not even considering Teodorin's collection of all kinds of luxury cars and bikes in other European countries and Equatorial Guinea.

The website africanews.com explains the procedures for handling the funds outcoming of this auction:

Geneva prosecutors said in February that they had closed an inquiry into Teodoro Nguema Obiang for money laundering and misappropriation of public assets with an arrangement to sell the cars to fund social programs in the West African state.

A series of international investigations

Obiang came under pressure in 2017, when he went on trial in October of that year and a French court handed him a suspended sentence of 3 years in jail and a suspended fine of 30 million euros [$33,128,700 USD], mainly due to money laundering. The French court also confiscated his French assets, estimated to be worth more than 150 million euros [$165,643,500 USD]. The trial for the appeal is scheduled for December 2019.

The same year, he was stopped in Brazil for not having declared an important amount of cash — Brazilian law prohibits people from entering the country with more than 10,000 reals in cash [$2,444.21 USD]. And things didn't go smoothly, as blogger Hippolyte Gourmantier shared on confidentielafrique.com:

La police fédérale brésilienne a saisi près de 1,5 million de dollars en espèces dans une valise et des montres de luxe d’une valeur estimée à 15 millions de dollars dans une autre appartenant au Vice-Président.

The federal police have seized nearly 1.5 million USD in cash in one bag, and in another, luxury watches belonging to the vice president, worth an estimated 15 million USD.

Rich in resources, rotted by corruption

Equatorial Guinea, with a total population of 1.2 million people, is part of the top 3 petroleum producers in sub-Saharan Africa. But this economic potential does not benefit citizens.
The African Development Bank (ADB) reports that “the real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by an estimated 7.9 percent in 2018, compared with 2.9 percent in 2017.”
A recession has continued “due to lower oil prices and weak economic diversification that led to a total contraction of about 29 percent from 2015 to 2018. The country still depends heavily on hydrocarbons, which in 2017 accounted for 56 percent of GDP, 95 percent of exports, and 80 percent of fiscal revenues,” according to the ADB report.
The main issue lies with corruption.
In 2019, Transparency International published a corruption perception index for Equatorial Guinea, rated 172 of 180 countries investigated (a low score meaning least corrupt). According to a World Bank study, the income per capita should be $7,050 USD but the majority live in extreme poverty. In 2014, the life expectancy at birth was of 57 years, which is less than the average African life expectancy of approximately 60 years.
Bata, the largest city of Equatorial Guinea, has been cut off from running water, as reported by Moctar Ficou, a Senegalese environmental journalist with vivafrik.com.
These issues explain why many Equatorial Guineans decide to leave their country. The opposition figure Abeso Ndong Salomon openly criticized the ruthless dictatorship, corruption and the mismanagement of public goods, which he says are the reasons that drove 250,000 citizens to leave:
Rappelons pour rafraîchir la mémoire du Président OBIANG, que la migration des 250.000 équato-guinéens est due à la dictature, à la chasse aux opposants pratiquée par le régime depuis 39 ans qui les ont conduit à s'exiler pour ne pas se faire assassiner ou voler tous leurs biens…
La corruption pratiquée par le régime du président OGIANG a vidé et dilapidé les ressources du pays qui ne peut profiter au peuple en raison du fait que cette richesse est aspirée par la famille présidentielle pour son seul profit.

Let's remind President Obiang that for the last 39 years, dictatorship and the elimination of opponents of the regime have forced 250,000 Equatorial Guineans to exile the country in an attempt to save their lives or protect their wealth from being stolen.

The corruption practiced by the regime of President Obiang has emptied and looted the country, whose people cannot benefit because this wealth is essentially kept for the presidential family's own benefit.

It is within this corrupt climate that Obiang, the likely heir, is believed to succeed to his father. Indeed, he has already started leading his first Ministerial Council, reports Rodrigue Loué on fr.africanews.com. The Ivorian blogger Stéphane Blankson writes:
ll se trouvera des personnes pour défendre ce type de personnes au nom du panafricanisme et de la lutte contre l'impérialisme et du néocolonialisme ainsi qu'au nom de la souveraineté des pays africains.

There will always be people ready to defend this type of personality, in the name of Pan-Africanism, anti-imperialist struggle, neo-colonialism and African sovereignty.

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