€70m spree by leader's son as his people lived in poverty
Published 27/10/2011 | 05:00
AN African dictator's son spent $100m (€70m) of his impoverished country's money on luxuries, including a private jet, a Malibu mansion and a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia, according to the US Justice Department.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is alleged to have lived like a playboy in California where he owned a collection of 24 sports cars valued at $10m.
Mr Obiang, thought to be aged 43, is the eldest son and heir apparent to Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea.
He serves as a minister of forestry and agriculture in his father's government and last week was appointed his country's representative for Unesco.
Seventy per cent of the tiny west African nation's 680,000 population live below the poverty line and tens of thousands have no access to electricity or clean water, according to the African Development Bank.
A 46-page civil complaint filed by the US government in a court in California said Mr Obiang engaged in "extortion, misappropriation, embezzlement or theft of public funds" to fund his lavish life.
The US is seeking to recover $71m in assets for "the benefit of the people of the country from which it was taken".
Mr Obiang's extraordinary catalogue of spending included $3.2m on Jackson items. He paid $275,000 for one of the late singer's white crystal-covered gloves and $80,000 on a pair of his crystal-covered socks.
He also spent $245,000 on a basketball signed by Jackson and the basketball player Michael Jordan.
In June 2006, he paid $38.5m for his 12-acre estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. In the same month, he paid $30m for a private jet.
According to the court documents, his cars included a $2m Maserati and two Bugatti Veyrons worth $2m and $1.3m.
He also owned eight Ferraris, seven Rolls Royces, five Bentleys, four Mercedes, two Lamborghinis and an Aston Martin.
Mr Obiang first moved to the United States in 1991, at the age of 23, to study English at Pepperdine University in Malibu and lived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He dropped out after just five months.
In 1998 he was appointed to the forestry minister by his father, who had taken over the country in a coup in 1979.
According to the US Justice Department, the country's valuable natural resources, including oil, gas and timber, were allegedly used to line the pockets of the president, his son and their close associates.
A spokesman for Equatorial Guinea and Mr Obiang said there had been "no wrongdoing". (© Daily Telegraph, London)