Friday, July 13, 2012

French Arrest Warrent For World's Richest Agriculture Minister

First up, the backround from FP's Passport blog:
Teodorin's World
Playboy bunnies. $2 million Bugattis. Bags full of cash. Meet the world's richest minister of agriculture and forestry. 

The owner of the estate at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, which sits high above Malibu, California, calls himself a prince, and he certainly lives like one. A long, tree-lined driveway runs from the estate's main gate past a motor court with fountains and down to a 15,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms and an equal number of fireplaces. The grounds overlook the Pacific Ocean, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, and Kelsey Grammer for neighbors. 

With his short, stocky build, slicked-back hair, and Coke-bottle glasses, the prince hardly presents an image of royal elegance. But his wardrobe was picked from the racks of Versace, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, and he spared no expense on himself, from the $30 million in cash he paid for the estate to what Senate investigators later reported were vast sums for household furnishings: $59,850 for rugs, $58,000 for a home theater, even $1,734.17 for a pair of wine glasses. When he arrived back home -- usually in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or one of his other several dozen cars -- his employees were instructed to stand in a receiving line to greet the prince. And then they lined up to do the same when he left.

The prince, though, was a phony, a descendant of rulers but not of royals. His full name is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue -- Teodorin to friends -- and he is the son of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, a country about the size of Maryland on the western coast of Africa. A postage stamp of a country with a population of a mere 650,000 souls, Equatorial Guinea would be of little international consequence if it didn't have one thing: oil, and plenty of it. The country is sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest producer of oil after Nigeria and Angola, pumping around 346,000 barrels per day, and is both a major supplier to and reliable supporter of the United States. Over the past 15 years, ExxonMobil, Hess Corp., and other American firms have collectively invested several billion dollars in Equatorial Guinea, which exports more of its crude to the U.S. market than any other country....MORE
And the latest from Agence France-Presse:

French warrant for E.Guinea president's son
France has issued an arrest warrant for the son of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema after he refused to be interviewed by magistrates on graft charges, a judicial source said Friday.

Magistrates want to speak to Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue about allegations of money laundering and embezzlement but he declined to be interviewed, claiming immunity as Equatorial Guinea's vice president.
Since 2010 French judges have been probing allegations of corruption under President Obiang, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.

Investigating magistrates Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman issued the warrant on Thursday, four months after beginning proceedings and after Obiang refused a second summons for questioning.

The charges were brought by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption campaign group which alleges the leaders and their relatives spent state funds from their countries on lavish purchases in France.
TI alleges Obiang owned more than four million euros worth of vehicles in France, while altogether the three leaders had accumulated French assets worth 160 million euros ($210 million).

Obiang's son is agriculture minister and deputy head of mission to UN cultural agency UNESCO, which is based in Paris. As part of that role he has diplomatic immunity....MORE
HT on both: Passport