France - Equatorial Guinea

Teodorin Obiang to sue Transparency International rep after Paris mansion raid

AFP/Eric Feferberg

Teodorin Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, is to sue an anti-corruption campaigner following a raid on his Paris home which saw the seizure of millions of euros-worth of luxury goods and furniture.

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French police carted 200 cubic metres of objets d’art after a three-day search of the six-storey mansion on Paris’s exclusive Avenue Foch.

They were following up claims that they were paid for by funds embezzled from Equatorial Guinea’s public purse.

On Tuesday South African Nobel Peace winner Desmond Tutu joined a call by rights groups to abolish a Unesco prize named after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Now Teodorin Obiang, who is his country’s agriculture minister and a representative at the UN’s Paris-based cultural organisation Unesco, is taking legal action for libel against the president of the French branch of anti-corruption campaign Transparency International, Daniel Lebègue.

In an article on 16 February Lebègue accused him of siphoning off public money, a charge that a statement by Obiang’s lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, describes as “unfounded”, adding that they have been “indiscriminately” republished by media.

The Equatorial Guinea claims that the building was a diplomatic asset.

French magistrates contest the claim, pointing out that it contains a nightclub, a hairdressing salon and other rooms devoted to activity they feel have no connection with diplomacy.

They believe that the building was reserved for Teodorin Obiang’s private use.
 

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