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Monday, April 22, 2024

Equatorial Guinea Vice President’s Superyacht And Homes Seized In South Africa

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By BBC

South African officials have seized a superyacht and two palatial homes owned by Equatorial Guinea’s Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang.

A court ordered the seizures after local businessman Daniel Janse van Rensburg won a law suit against Obiang for unlawful arrest and torture.

He has demanded compensation of about $2.2m (£1.8m).

He says he was unlawfully detained in Equatorial Guinea for about 500 days after a business deal went wrong.

The vice-president, the son of the world’s longest-serving ruler, has not yet commented on the case.

He and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo have long been accused of seeing oil-rich Equatorial Guinea as their personal fiefdom, and of abusing its wealth and resources.

This is the latest in a string of rulings issued against him by courts around the world.

“We attached two houses… in Cape Town in a formal application two weeks ago and the superyacht last Tuesday,” lawyer Errol Eldson, who is representing the businessman, told AFP news agency.

An application to auction the assets had been filed, he added.

Mr Van Rensburg has waged a lengthy legal battle against the vice-president in the South African courts, and published a book last year on how a business trip to Equatorial Guinea in 2013 “turned into a journey to the depths of hell” following his “harrowing incarceration” at the notorious Black Beach prison

Mr Eldson told AFP that his client had set up an airline in Equatorial Guinea with a local politician who withdrew from the venture at the last minute and demanded a financial refund.

The dispute led to the politician phoning Vice-President Obiang and “within 10 minutes” an elite security force unit “picked Daniel up and threw him into Black Beach prison”, the lawyer was quoted as saying.

Obiang is widely seen as being groomed by his father – who has been in power for 43 years – to succeed him.

Last month, he ordered his half-brother’s arrest over the sale of a jet.

His half-brother was alleged to have pocketed the proceeds of the sale. He has not publicly commented on the allegations.

The vice-president – known for his lavish lifestyle – has also had his own brushes with the law.

In 2014, US authorities seized a $30m mansion in Malibu and other assets, included a Ferrari car, saying they had been bought with the proceeds of corruption.

Two years later, Swiss prosecutors seized 11 luxury cars belonging to him. The cars – among them a Bugatti, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royce – were sold at an auction for about $27m.

He was also fined and handed a suspended sentence by a French court in 2021 for using public money to fund a luxurious lifestyle in the European nation. He denied wrongdoing.

In the same year, the UK imposed “anti-corruption” sanctions on him.

Officials said he had a collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a $275,000 crystal-covered glove which the late singer had worn on his 1980s Bad tour.

The UK said the new sanctions targeted individuals who had “lined their own pockets at the expense of their citizens”.

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