Teodorin Obiang, the current Vice President of Equatorial Guinea who is also consequently the son of Africa’s longest-serving leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema, is facing prosecution in France for embezzlement.
A French prosecutor has asked a court in France to sentence the Playboy Vice President to three years in prison for embezzling $115 million from his country to buy luxury cars, real estate, and other assets in France.
The 48-year-old leader has denied the charges but French authorities who have been investigating the illicit holdings of French assets by African leaders have estimated that Teodorin’s collection of cars, real estate, and other items are worth more than €100 million ($115 million).
To that end, the French prosecutor is also seeking a €30 million fine for Teodorin Obiang. This particular case against Teodorin Obiang has been years in the making. European authorities have over the years seized a bucketload of luxury items from the Vice President.
This includes a $120 million 76-meter yacht, called Ebony Ice, and a fleet of some of the world’s rarest cars, and a mansion in Paris, complete with a club, gold plated bathrooms and original paintings by Degas and Renoir. A previous settlement with US authorities saw Obiang handing over about $30 million in assets, including a villa in Malibu, California and luxury cars.
Here are the two reasons we celebrate Teodorin Obiang’s prosecution
African leaders need to be shown that they cannot steal and get away with it
Almost daily, we are subjected to gross revelations of just how corrupt African leaders are; they get fat of the riches of their nations while huge chunks of their citizenry suffer in poverty. Equatorial guinea, for instance, is an oil-rich former Spanish colony and currently, more than half of the country lives in poverty.
The $115 million that the French Prosecutors are alleging that Teodorin Obiang stole from the country while serving as agriculture minister for his father would surely have gone a little way in improving the conditions for some of the population.
Africa’s longest serving leader needs to be shaken
Teodorin Obiang’s father, Teodoro Obiang has ruled the country since 1979 when he took power. The length of his rule has led to confusions about whether Equatorial Guinea is a monarchy.
See Also: Is Equatorial Guinea Running A Monarchy?
It is possible that this glaring show of just how much the Obiang’s have taken from Equatorial Guinea will be the final nail in the coffin of this over 3-decade long dictatorial reign.
Here are two reasons why Teodorin Obiang’s prosecution saddens us
Africa still can’t seem to fight her own battles
Until African nations can build systems that make citizens and leaders alike accountable, without anyone operating above the law, the continent will continue looking outside for help.
If France and other countries in the West and even the International Criminal Court continue to step in, then African leaders will be able to play on the people’s need for independence and make arguments like the one that the Equatorial Guinea government made to the International Court of Justice of the UN to get them to halt France’s prosecution.
According to them, the government was angered by the “unfair and insulting manner in which our country is currently treated by France.” The plea also says that “The potential damage to Equatorial Guinea’s sovereign rights is serious and imminent.” They also allege that France has violated the VP’s right to diplomatic immunity. It is reminiscent of all the arguments made by all the African governments who seek to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It is reminiscent of all the arguments made by all the African governments who seek to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). The seeming defense that the ICC only targets African governments takes no note of the citizens who are often wronged by the activities of corrupt governments.
Teodorin Obiang’s trial will still cost the country money
Across the border trials often take a lot of money to prosecute and while France will be bearing most of the burden to prove Teodorin Obiang’s guilt, Equatorial Guinea’s coffers will surely suffer in the defense of a man that has stolen and embezzled from it.