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Hunt is on for Africa’s looted wealth

The world keeps shrinking for Africa’s kleptocrats.

Senegal’s new government has launched an unusual joint investigation with France into several key figures from the former government.

It reportedly filed a complaint with a Paris court to investigate the origins of assets held in France by an undisclosed list of high-profile figures associated with the former Senegalese government.

*     *     *

A few years ago, French and African NGOs pushed for investigations into the wealth of sitting presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo and family members. They’re alleged to have used embezzled public money to bankroll lavish lifestyles in France.

French and American authorities in 2011 seized assets of Teodorin Obiang, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, including luxury cars, mansions, a jet, and $2 million dollars of Michael Jackson memorabilia.
France issued an arrest warrant for Obiang in March after he failed to appear for questioning in his case.

Equatorial Guinea struck back, taking France to the International Court of Justice to stop the French corruption case.

And Obiang was named second vice-president in what some see as an attempt to shield him with immunity from prosecution.

*     *     *

Pursuing ill-gotten gains often has an ultimate goal of asset recovery, and returning tainted wealth to victimized countries, where it can fund schools, hospitals, or roads as intended.

The process doesn’t always succeed and some worry that returned assets will just be stolen again.

But no one can deny that for Africa’s crooked rulers, the heat is on.

— With reporting from voanews.

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