This Monday, June 19, a case against Equatorial Guinean First Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue for looting the nation’s oil wealth opens in a Parisian criminal court. In partnership with the Open Society Foundations Justice Initiative, GAB will provide readers with regular reports on the case’s progress. Although the Vice President is unlikely to appear in person, the case nonetheless is an important milestone in the world wide struggle to bring to justice rulers who rob their citizens on a massive scale. It marks the first time, to GAB’s knowledge, a sitting kleptocrat has been called to account.
The case, one of several collectively known as “bien mal acquis” or “ill-gotten goods,” has gone through several twists and turns. It is a tribute to the hard work, persistence, and dedication of CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Sherpa, TI-France and other individuals and NGOs that it is now finally set for trial. Vice President Obiang could be sentenced to up to 10 years’ in prison and fined millions of euros if convicted. While he would surely remain holed up in Equatorial Guinea to duck prison, conviction would likely carry an order confiscating all property he owns located in France, which today is known to include a Parisian mansion valued at 107 million euros along with a collection of Ferraris, Maseratis, and other luxury cars like worth over five million euros.
The French case is not Obiang’s first brush with the law. In October 2014, to settle a U.S. case based on his kleptocratic ways, he forfeited a mansion in California and other property worth $30 million. Obiang is also under investigation in a number of other jurisdictions.
Monday’s hearing begins at 1:30, Paris time. For those fortunate enough to be in Paris, additional hearings are scheduled for 9:00 am, June 21; 1:30, June 22; 1:30 pm, June 26; 1:30, June 28; 9:00, June 29; 1:30, July 3; 9:00 July 5; and 1:30 July 6. For those who are not, GAB is the next best alternative.