Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Agrees to Relinquish More Than $30 Million of Assets Purchased with Corruption Proceeds
The Department of Justice has reached a settlement of its civil forfeiture cases against assets in the United States owned by the Second Vice President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue that he purchased with the proceeds of corruption.
“Through relentless embezzlement and extortion, Vice President Nguema Obiang shamelessly looted his government and shook down businesses in his country to support his lavish lifestyle, while many of his fellow citizens lived in extreme poverty,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.
“After raking in millions in bribes and kickbacks, Nguema Obiang embarked on a corruption-fueled spending spree in the United States. This settlement forces Nguema Obiang to relinquish assets worth an estimated $30 million, and prevents Nguema Obiang from hiding other stolen money in the United States, fulfilling the goals of our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative: to deny safe haven to the proceeds of large-scale foreign official corruption and recover those funds for the people harmed by the abuse of office.”
“While this settlement is certainly gratifying for the many investigators and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition, it is undoubtedly even more rewarding for the people of Equatorial Guinea, knowing that at least some of the money plundered from their country’s coffers is being returned to them,” said Acting ICE Director Winkowski. “ICE remains steadfast in its resolve to combat foreign corruption when the spoils of these crimes come to our shores and we are committed to seeking justice and compensation for the often impoverished victims.”
According to court documents, Nguema Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, received an official government salary of less than $100,000 but used his position and influence as a government minister to amass more than $300 million worth of assets through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both Equatoguinean and U.S. law. Through intermediaries and corporate entities, Nguema Obiang acquired numerous assets in the United States that he is agreeing to relinquish in a combination of forfeiture and divestment to a charity for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.
Under the terms of the settlement, Nguema Obiang must sell a $30 million mansion located in Malibu, California, a Ferrari automobile and various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia purchased with the proceeds of corruption. Of those proceeds, $20 million will be given to a charitable organization to be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea. Another $10.3 million will be forfeited to the United States and will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea to the extent permitted by law.
Under the agreement, Nguema Obiang must also disclose and remove other assets he owns in the United States. Nguema Obiang must also make a $1 million payment to the United States, representing the value of Michael Jackson memorabilia already removed from the United States for disbursement to the charitable organization. The agreement also provides that if certain of Nguema Obiang’s other assets, including a Gulfstream Jet, are ever brought into the United States, they are subject to seizure and forfeiture.