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French court convicts son of Equatorial Guinea's president for embezzling over €150M

Teodorin Obiang



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29 October 2017

Equatorial Guinea: President's Son Convicted of Laundering Millions

Author: Human Rights Watch

...The ruling comes after more than a decade of litigation initiated by two French anti-corruption organizations...It was the first of the three cases [brought against high-level government officials of different countries for allegedly laundering “ill-gotten gains” in France] to reach a verdict and the first time a French court recognized non-governmental organizations’ standing to file a criminal corruption complaint.

...Teodorin has been the subject of a number of international money-laundering investigations...The huge amount of money looted by members of Equatorial Guinea’s ruling elite contributes to the country’s severe underfunding of health and education.

.... France has no laws providing for the repatriation of recovered assets, but Human Rights Watch and other organizations are urging the government to ensure that the funds are repatriated to the country to benefit the people who are victims of official corruption.

...The discovery of oil in the early 1990s catapulted Equatorial Guinea from one of the world’s poorest countries to the one with the highest per capita income in Africa. Yet the government has invested only a pittance in health and education and progress on health and education consistently lag behind regional averages. Some indicators, such as vaccination and school enrollment rates, have deteriorated since the start of the oil boom.


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27 October 2017

Equatorial Guinea leader's son found guilty of embezzlement by French court

Author: Emmanuel Jarry, Reuters

Millions of euros of assets belonging to the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president were ordered to be seized by a French court that found him guilty in absentia on Friday of using money plundered from his country to buy property and luxury cars.

The Paris court found Teodorin Obiang... guilty of embezzlement... Obiang denied the charges.  [He] was also handed a three-year suspended prison sentence and a suspended 30 million euros ($34.78 million) fine. 

...The court was critical of Societe Generale, France’s second biggest bank, and the Bank of France, deeming them complacent towards Obiang’s finances and too slow to react.

The role of the two banks was taken into account to justify the suspended sentences for Obiang, the court said.

Societe Generale said it had not been a party in the trial and “therefore we don’t have any particular comment to make”.

Officials at the Bank of France did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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27 October 2017

Equatorial Guinea VP Teodorin Obiang sentenced in France

Author: BBC (UK)

A French court has handed down a three-year suspended jail term to Equatorial Guinea's Vice President Teodorin Obiang for corruption.

...He...was found guilty of embezzlement. His assets in France will be seized, including a mansion on Avenue Foch in Paris. He also got a suspended fine of 30m euros (£27m; $35m).

...The Paris judge found that the president's son had used his position as agriculture and forestry minister to siphon off payments from timber firms who were exporting from Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Obiang's forestry company Somagui Forestal was "an empty shell used solely to channel public money", prosecutors said. The case against him was triggered by...Transparency International and...Sherpa.

...It is the first of three French investigations into the alleged "ill-gotten gains" of long-standing African leaders and their families.

 [Also refers to Somagui Forestal] 


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27 October 2017

Interview with key witness in Obiang case: Delfin Mocache Massoko

Author: Transparency International

Today a French court handed Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue... a suspended three-year prison sentence, a €30 million (US$35 million) fine and confiscated all of his French-held assets. 

Obiang was found guilty of embezzlement: abusing his position as agriculture and forestry minister to siphon public money for his own use.

Before the verdict was announced we interviewed Delfin Mocache Massoko, a key witness in the case, to find out what the trial means to him. Massoko is founder of Diario Rombe, a digital newspaper that publishes news and ideas that do not appear in the state-controlled media of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. He left the country in 2013...

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27 October 2017

Obiang verdict: Transparency International welcomes the corruption conviction and seizure of assets

Author: Transparency International Secretariat

Transparency International welcomes the decision of a court in Paris to convict Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue... of embezzlement, and to confiscate all of his assets held in France. 

...The confiscated assets must now be returned to the people of Equatorial Guinea.

Transparency International is calling for measures to be put in place to ensure the assets are not allocated to the general state budget of France or returned to the Obiang government in Equatorial Guinea but that they go directly to citizens.

...Transparency International France published a report advocating that assets confiscated in cases of grand corruption should benefit the population in the country of origin by financing development efforts, anti-corruption initiatives and work to strengthen the rule of law.

...Under Article 57.3.c of the UN Convention against Corruption, to which France is a party, laws should be put in place to return stolen assets to their rightful owners. France does not yet have these laws.

...The case against Obiang was initiated by Transparency International France and Sherpa... in 2008. Getting here has taken almost a decade of arguments, a change to French law and a crowdfunding campaign to ensure the witnesses could travel to Paris to testify.

 [Transparency International France's report is available here (in French)]

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