February 7, 2019 / 8:02 PM / 7 months ago

Geneva closes graft case against Obiang's son, confiscates 25 luxury cars

* Money-laundering, misappropriation inquiry began in 2016

* Geneva prosecutor says to sell 25 confiscated cars

* Obiang son’s yacht in Netherlands being released

* Equatorial Guinea to pay court costs under deal

GENEVA, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Swiss prosecutors said on Thursday they had closed a money-laundering inquiry into a son of the President of Equatorial Guinea with an arrangement to sell 25 confiscated luxury cars to fund social programmes in the former Spanish colony.

The probe, opened in October 2016, also concerned misappropriation of public assets by Teodoro Obiang, the Geneva prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Obiang, widely know as Teodorin, was accused along with two others whose names were not given.

“The 25 vehicles ...will be sold and the net product will be handed over to a social programme on the territory of Equatorial Guinea,” the statement said.

The “Ebony Shine”, a yacht confiscated in the Netherlands following a request for judicial cooperation, has been released, it said.

The government of Equatorial Guinea has agreed to pay the Geneva state 1.3 million Swiss francs ($1.3 million), to cover the cost of the procedure, which also involved inquiries in the Cayman Islands, France, the Marshall Islands, Monaco and Denmark, it said.

Teodorin Obiang was convicted of embezzlement in France in October 2017 during a trial in absentia. The court ordered the confiscation of more than 100 million euros worth of his assets.

He is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled the country for four decades. Rights groups have labelled his administration one the world’s most corrupt.

Equatorial Guinea argued that Obiang was the country’s “Second Vice-President” when the 2012 raid took place and that his Paris residence therefore was part of its diplomatic mission. A year ago France asked the World Court to throw out the case launched by Equatorial Guinea saying it was wrongly using the court to shield the ruler’s son.

$1 = 1.0010 Swiss francs Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by John Stonestreet

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