In his apartment in the avenue Foch, the faucets are covered in gold leaf. Teodorin Obiang, accused of fraudulently built in France a heritage of colossal, must be judged from Monday to Paris, but the son of the president of equatorial Guinea asks for a report. This is a first in the case of “ill gotten gains” in France.
Former minister of Agriculture and Forests, promoted at the end of June by her father, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, vice-president of equatorial Guinea, he is being prosecuted before the correctional court of Paris for money laundering misuse of corporate assets, misappropriation of public funds, abuse of confidence and corruption. The trial, the dates of which have been laid down at the end of October, should open at 13: 30 and last until 12 January. According to one of the lawyers of the accused, Emmanuel Marsigny, the time his “much too short” and do not conform to the law, given the fact that his client has declared his address to Malabo.
The preparation of his defense
Lawyers for Teodorin Obiang, who had to be absent Monday, ask “that it can benefit of the reasonable period of time to be able to organize effectively his defence”, said Me Marsigny, who plans to call several witnesses, some of whom are resident abroad. The investigation, opened after complaints of associations, Sherpa and Transparency International, highlighted the considerable wealth of Teodorin Obiang, 47 years : building on avenue Foch, in one of the most exclusive areas of Paris, estimated at 107 million euros, luxury cars and of sport (Porsche, Ferrari, Bentley, Bugatti). His spending lavishly in France were very remote from the daily life of his small oil country in central Africa, of which more than half of the residents live below the poverty line.
When he is in Paris, Teodorin Obiang, the eternal bachelor look learnedly studied (dark glasses, smooth hair, beard cut), expense cases, entire liquid in the boutiques of the avenue Montaigne. The master of the house has a hammam, a gym, a nightclub, a hairdresser’s salon, a movie theater in its living places in paris. At the end of the statement, the judges were of the view that it has built its heritage in France, investing the proceeds of “misappropriation of public funds”, of corruption. The son of the president of equatorial guinea “has always said that he earned lawfully his money in his country”, he is “innocent of the facts alleged against him”, assures Me Marsigny. Between 2004 and 2011, almost € 110 million from the public Treasury of equatorial Guinea came to credit the personal account of Teodorin Obiang, according to the judges of instruction.
The investigators believe that he had imposed a “tax revolution” on the wood, the payment of which, in the name of the Somagui Forestal, he should be directly delivered. This company is responsible for the exploitation of the precious wood that is with oil, one of the main wealth of the country the gulf of Guinea. Controlled by Teodorin Obiang, it also ensured that many of its expenses. The accused has multiplied the avenues of appeal. Put in review in 2014, he has tried in vain to cancel the proceedings against him, invoking his status at the time of second vice president of equatorial Guinea which gave to his eyes an immunity.
But the Court of cassation had considered that the facts complained of had been committed “for personal reasons”, under its privacy and thus detachable of state functions protected by customary international law. Recently, it has, without success, asked the international Court of Justice (ICJ) to suspend the proceedings in France against him. “Opens a trial that is unprecedented, without precedent in Europe and beyond,” points out William Bourdon, lawyer for Transparency International, “chapter Obiang is going to be close”, but others will open. The French judicial inquiry also on the built heritage assets in France by the families of several other african leaders, that of Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo), of the deceased Omar Bongo (Gabon), or even the president of the central african republic’s deposed François Bozizé.