International human rights advocates say France’s arrest warrant for Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorín, is an important signal the international community will hold Equatorial Guinea’s leading family accountable.
Tutu Alicante, director of US-based EG Justice, said the warrant “shows [Equatorial Guineans] that Teodorin and his father, his family, who for so many years have been looting all this money from the country, are not untouchable. It shows that they too can be subjected to justice.”
Teodorin, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has been accused of laundering money from Equatorial Guinea in order to make lavish purchases in France, including multimillion dollar properties and a fleet of luxury cars.
Prosecutors in France brought charges against Teodorin late last month after anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International filed a legal complaint against the president’s son.
On Tuesday, Equatorial Guinea’s public prosecutor announced they were considering possible slander charges against the head of Transparency International.
Alicante and other international rights activists have called on France to act quickly on its arrest warrant.
“We know that Teodorin for many, many years has been collecting not only luxury cars, but also a host of luxury items - gloves from Michael Jackson, multimillion dollar paintings from Monet,” said Alicante.
“It is clear that most of that money did not come from legitimate sources. This is a minister that is making about sixty thousand dollars a year officially, yet he’s able to afford multimillion dollar houses and mansions all over the world.”
The younger Obiang is the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
But President Obiang has publicly defended his son. In an interview with French TV France 24, he said that Teodorin’s wealth could be traced to a company he owns involved with forestry and road-building. "He didn't take any money," he told the news outlet.
According to Human Rights Watch, Teodorin is expected to succeed his father under constitutional changes pushed through in November.
The oil-rich West African country high poverty rates despite a wealth of natural resources. Teodorín has been under investigation in both the United States and France, on suspicion of making purchases through the misuse of the country’s natural resource wealth.