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DOJ Hits African Kleptocrat

The Justice Department said today it has filed civil forfeiture complaints against the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea to recover $70.8 million in real and personal property located in the United States.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (Nguema) allegedly ‘used his position and influence as a government minister for Equatorial Guinea to acquire criminal proceeds through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both Equatoguinean and U.S. law,’ the DOJ said.

Nguema — often known as ‘Teddy’ — allegedly amassed wealth of over $100 million through corruption and laundered the proceeds in the U.S. The DOJ’s Lanny Breuer said, ‘While his people struggled, he lived the high life. . . . Through our Kleptocracy Initiative, we are sending the message loud and clear: the United States will not be a hiding place for the ill-gotten riches of the world’s corrupt leaders.’

The complaints allege that Nguema used intermediaries and shell companies to acquire assets in the United States, including more than $1.8 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia, a $38.5 million Gulfstream G-V jet, a $30 million house in Malibu, California, and a 2011 Ferrari worth $530,000.

Six months ago, Ken Silverstein asked in Foreign Policy magazine why Nguema had escaped U.S. sanctions.

Silverstein traced a four-year “meandering investigation” by the DOJ and Immigration and Customs Enforcement into Nguema, who was enormously wealthy “despite earning an official salary as Equatorial Guinea’s minister of agriculture and forestry of only about $5,000 per month.”

View the DOJ’s October 25, 2011 release here.

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