Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-184
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo / Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (United States)
Equatorial Guinea
President (Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo: 1979-current); Second Vice President and son of President (Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue: current)
United States
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
2004
Ongoing
Art.17, Art.20, Art.23
Yes
Other / Settlement Agreement in Non-Conviction Based Confiscation Case
No
N/A
Ongoing Case
Ongoing
Final Judgment (No Appeal)
Unspecified amount (includes Malibu mansion, Ferrari, two statues and US$11.3 million)
Ongoing
Ongoing but returned funds to be used to establish a charity for benefit of people of Equatorial Guinea

On October 10, 2014, Mr. Obiang announced that he had reached a settlement with the Department of Justice in which he agreed to forfeit his Malibu mansion, a Ferrari, two statues, US$10.3 million being held in escrow and to make a payment for US$1 million. The proceeds are to be used to establish a charity that would benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea. (Source: US v. One White Crystal-Covered "Bad Tour" Glove and Other Michael Jackson Memorabilia; Real Property Located on Sweetwater Mesa Road in Malibu, California; One 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO, et al, Case No. 2:11-cv-03582-GW-SS (C.D. Cal), Joint Stipulation and Settlement Agreement filed October 10, 2014; PR Newswire, "Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Settles Case with Justice Department.") In October 2011, the US Department of Justice had announced the filing of two civil asset forfeiture suits, in California and in Washington, D.C., against more than $70.8 million in alleged proceeds of corruption by Mr. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. The Justice Department stated that the cases originated as part of its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. (Source: US Department of Justice Press Release, "Department of Justice Seeks to Recover More Than $70.8 Million in Proceeds of Corruption from Government Minister of Equatorial Guinea," October 25, 2011.) In February 2010, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations had conducted hearings and released an extensive investigative report which concluded that "From 2004 to 2008, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, has used U.S. lawyers, bankers, real estate agents, and escrow agents to move over $110 million in suspect funds into the United States. Mr. Obiang is the subject of an ongoing U.S. criminal investigation, has been identified in corruption complaints filed in France, and was a focus of a 2004 Subcommittee hearing showing how Riggs Bank facilitated officials from Equatorial Guinea in opening accounts and engaging in suspect transactions." (Sources: U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Majority and Minority Staff Report, "Keeping Foreign Corruption Out of the United States: Four Case Studies" and report of the Senate Hearing 111-540 on February 4, 2010.) The assets involved in the California suit included a Malibu mansion on Sweetwater Mesa Road, a 2011 Ferrari, and Michael Jackson Memorabilia; the Washington, DC suit involves a Gulfstream G-V private jet. In August 2013, the California court granted a summary judgment, dismissing the case against the assets but declining to rule on the charge of bank fraud. (Sources: US v. One White Crystal-Covered "Bad Tour" Glove, et al, Case No. 2:11-cv-03582-GW-SS (C.D. Cal), First Amended Verified Claim for Forfeiture In Rem filed October 13, 2011, US v. One Gulfstream G-V Jet Aircraft Displaying Tail Number VPCES, et al, Case No. 1:11-cv-01874-ABJ (D.D.C.), Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem filed October 25, 2011). As part of the settlement, the civil forfeiture action filed in Washington DC was to be dropped.

In November 2010, the French Supreme Court held that the criminal complaint filed earlier by Transparency International and other non-governmental organizations against Mr. Obiang may proceed. (Source: Supreme Court of France, Case No. 6092, decision of November 9, 2010, L'association Transparence International France, partie civile, reversing High Court of Paris, section 2, judgment of October 29, 2009.)  In July 2012, a French court issued an international arrest warrant when for the second time, Mr. Obiang, Jr. did not appear before the Investigating Magistrates "for preliminary examination - a legal procedural step that precedes a criminal indictment under French Law." (Source:  Sherpa Press Release, "'Biens Mal Acquis' Case: Teodorin Obiang refuses to appear before judicial authorities," July 13, 2012.) According to a press release from the NGOs Transparency International France and Sherpa, the Paris court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) issued an indictment against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue on money-laundering charges on March 19, 2014 (Source: Transparency International press release, "Teodorin Obiang Nguema indicted in Bien Mal Acquis case", March 20, 2014.)

U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Foreign Corruption Investigations Group (Miami) and HSI Asset identification and Removal Group (Miami) of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement; HSI Office of the Special Agent in Charge (Los Angeles)
Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section
US District Court for the Central District of California; US District Court for the District of Columbia