(Washington DC, January 3, 2017). EG Justice welcomes the International Court of Justice’s decision to allow criminal proceedings in France to move forward against Teodorin for the acquisition of luxury cars and goods, including a mansion on Avenue Foch.
The most recent seizure by Dutch authorities in the Netherlands of a 76-meeter yacht adds to a long list of luxury goods and real estate confiscated in Switzerland, France, South Africa, and the United States, belonging to Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President. Teodoro Nguema Obiang, commonly known as Teodorin, son of President Teodoro Obiang, is currently facing investigation and/or legal battles for his embezzlement and plunder of the country’s resources, while the majority of people in the country live in abject poverty.
Serving Justice to a Kleptocrat: The legal hurdles of Vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang
The government of Equatorial Guinea has routinely relied on public relation stunts and delay tactics to avoid prosecution in a number of legal investigations of Teodorin and other government officials. On December 6 the ICJ dismissed Teodorin’s immunity claim, but provisionally ordered France to treat the mansion as a diplomatic mission pending a final decision in the trial.
“The decision by the ICJ allowing this case to move forward against Equatorial Guinea’s inept playboy Vice-President, is a momentous victory for the people of Equatorial Guinea,” Said Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice. “What we have in Equatorial Guinea today is a crime syndicate passing as a state, a family determined to embezzle all the resources of the nation for their own benefit, while depriving thousands of people of human dignity.”
In November 2016, when the government hosted the African-Arab Summit, it leased a luxury 20-room yacht for a total of $4 million, to host participants, while hotels in the capital city of Malabo were mostly empty. Local authorities had conducted a campaign to demolish houses in the neighborhood of Coimpex, and evict informal business out of downtown Malabo, in an effort to show a glamorous façade of the capital city. Hosting these international forums has become a money-maker for government officials who are able to dip their hands into state coffers and spend in extravagant and superfluous luxuries, such as the high-end yacht.
Meanwhile, public school facilities remain inadequate, students must endure centers without electricity, sanitation or potable water. Primary school completion rates continue to be low and nearly half of the population continues to live without drinking water. Access to basic healthcare remains similarly dire.
The Government of Equatorial Guinea must take immediate and verifiable steps to effectively end corrupt practices within the different Ministries and state institutions, and to investigate and bring to justice government officials implicated in grand corruption.
"Transparency, protection of basic freedoms, and the rule of law are the essential bedrock of a country’s development," said Tutu Alicante, "the lack of mechanisms to address systematic corruption by government officials in Equatorial Guinea threatens the very survival of this nation as unemployment, crime, poverty and inequality continues to grow at alarming proportions."
EG Justices calls on the African Union, the European Union, and the United States, to mount serious pressure on the government of Equatorial Guinea to institute verifiable mechanisms to combat corruption.