Saturday, July 13, 2013

The State Thieves

Equatorial Guinea is one Africa’s smallest countries and, in theory, one of the most prosperous. Oil revenues make it the wealthiest single country in Africa per capita, but 70 per cent of the population lives beneath the United Nations poverty threshold of €2 a day. In Congo-Brazzaville (a former French colony to the north of the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo), three quarters of the population lives below the UN poverty line. In Gabon, the population is a little better off: only 20 per cent survive below the line.

In February last year, French magistrates led a two-week “raid” on an €80m (£68m) Paris mansion as part of a judicial investigation into the alleged “biens mal aquis” (ill-gotten gains) of the leaders of the three African countries.

According to French judicial documents, in November 2009 Mr Obiang imported 26 luxury cars from the US to France for $12m (£7.4m). They included seven Ferraris, four Mercedes-Benz, five Bentleys, four Rolls-Royces, two Bugattis, an Aston Martin, a Porsche, a Lamborghini and a Maserati. Most of them were re-exported to Equatorial Guinea, whose 1,800 miles of roads are largely unpaved and, in rainy weather, negotiable only by four-wheel-drive. The younger Mr Obiang is evidently an art-lover as well as a car-lover. Tracfin, the French government’s anti-money laundering agency, has documented his purchase of more than €18m of objets d’art from the personal collection of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent when they were auctioned in Paris in February 2009. The art is believed to have been distributed among his six homes abroad, including a seafront house in Malibu, California. The bill for the 109 art works was settled by bank transfers from the Equatorial Guinea forestry board. At the time Mr Obiang was minister of agriculture and forests.

Wealth of nations: 

Teodoro Obiang:

The 71-year-old President of Equatorial Guinea - Africa’s  longest-serving leader - came to power in a military coup which ousted his uncle in August 1979. The discovery of oil has made Equatorial Guinea nominally the wealthiest per head of population in sub-Saharan Africa, yet most of his people do not even have access to clean drinking water. The Obiang family had a Parisian mansion worth €80m, below, and other property worth up to €20m seized by French investigators last year.

Teodorin Nguema Obiang:

Cars ordered by the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President that were found in a garage at 42 Ave Foch were auctioned this week for €2.8m.
They were:
Bentley Arnage 2005
Rolls Royce Phantom 2005
Bentley Azur 2007
Ferrari 599 GTO 2010
Porsche Carrera 980 GT 2006
Bugatti Veyron 16.4e 2007
Maserati MC de 2005
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport 2010
Maybach 62 2004

Dennis Sassou Nguesso

The 70-year-old returned to power in Congo-Brazzaville after a civil war in 1997. He has since “won” two elections, both without any genuine, democratic opposition. Mr Nguesso claims to be influenced by socialism, but critics suggest he believes mostly in ‘socialism in one family’. When he attended the UN in 2006, his entourage occupied 44 rooms, running up a bill of €150,000. His family are believed to own 24 homes in Paris, including the two apartments below, worth €2.47m and €1.6m respectively.

Ali Bongo Ondimba

The Congolese President, 54, succeeded his father Omar Bongo in October 2009. He was chosen as a candidate by the dominant party in dubious circumstances. Reports at  the time suggested that he was seen as an upstart – he was described as ‘a spoilt child, born in Congo-Brazzaville, brought up in France, hardly able to speak indigenous languages and with the appearance of a hip-hop star’. His family are thought to own 39 Parisian homes. Those pictured are worth €18.9m and a whopping €100m respectively.

The family of President Bongo of Gabon is believed to own 39 luxury apartments or houses in the French capital. President Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville has a modest 24 Parisian properties, according to documents leaked from the French investigation. Between them the two families are said to have 200 French bank accounts. President Bongo bought a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, worth €220,000, in France in 2009. Antoinette Nguesso, the president’s wife, bought a Mercedes E Class and his nephew, Wilfrid, a Porsche Panamera Turbo (each worth more than €100,000).

From here

1 comment:

Thurman said...