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Equatorial Guinea leader's son found guilty of embezzlement by French court
October 27, 2017 / 10:38 AM / in a month

Equatorial Guinea leader's son found guilty of embezzlement by French court

* Found guilty in absentia, 3-yr suspended sentence

* Also given 30 mln euros suspended fine

* Other probes under way into African ex-pats in France

By Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Millions of euros of assets belonging to the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president were ordered to be seized by a French court that found him guilty in absentia on Friday of using money plundered from his country to buy property and luxury cars.

Teodorin Obiang, eldest son of President Teodoro Obiang and a vice-president himself, was also handed a three-year suspended prison sentence and a suspended 30 million euros ($35 million) fine.

The Paris court found Obiang, 48, guilty of embezzlement, and ordered the confiscation of more than 100 million euros worth of his French assets. Obiang denied the charges.

The case is the first of several to reach court in a broader judicial investigation into allegations of illicit acquisitions in France by long-time leaders and family relatives in several African countries including Gabon and Congo Republic.

Obiang was first put on trial in January but the case, 10 years in the works, was postponed after his lawyers argued they had not had enough time to prepare his defence.

Obiang’s luxury residence on Paris’ Avenue Foch - a grand, sweeping road near the Arc de Triomphe often favoured by wealthy African expatriates and politicians - was among the assets scrutinised during the trial.

The property, bought for 25 million euros in 2005, had a gym, hair-dressing studio and disco with cinema screen.

Paris prosecutor Jean-Yves Lourgouilloux said Obiang’s “fraudulent spending” amounted to more than 150 million euros.

His father, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has ruled Equatorial Guinea - a former Spanish colony - for more than three decades, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, and rights groups have labelled his administration as one of the world’s most corrupt. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alison Williams)

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