25 luxury cars seized from Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, will be auctioned off in Switzerland and are estimated to bring in 18.5m Swiss francs ($18.7m).
Among the cars are seven Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, five Bentleys, a Maserati and a McLaren. The most expensive lots are a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, valued at between 4.8m and 5.7m euros ($5.2-6.2m) and a yellow Ferrari hybrid at 2.4-2.6m euros.The cars were confiscated by Swiss justice after the opening in 2016 of a financial wrongdoing case against Obiang, son and likely heir of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled for 40 years.
In February Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Teodorin Obiang Nguema but were confiscating the luxury cars as part of the case.
Under the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can choose to drop charges in this category if defendants offer compensation “and restore a situation that is in conformity with the law”.Equatorial Guinea has also agreed to give Geneva 1.3m Swiss francs to cover the costs of the case.
In October 2017 a Paris court handed Obiang a three-year suspended jail term after convicting him of siphoning off public money to buy assets in France. He was accused of spending more than 1,000 times his official annual salary on a six-storey mansion in a posh part of the French capital, a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets. He was also given a suspended fine of 30m euros.In September, Brazilian media said that more than $16m in cash and luxury watches were seized by Brazilian police and customs officers from luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang on a private visit.
Obiang is reputedly on a fast track to succeed his father. Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general. The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.
The tiny West African nation is one of the continent’s top petroleum producers and has a population of just 1.2 million. The country is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the most corrupt in the world.