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Equatorial Guinea seeks to block sale of confiscated Paris mansion

Equatorial Guinea has lodged a new case against France over the confiscation of a luxury mansion and other assets, the International Court of Justice said.

The Paris mansion was seized after the west African nation’s vice-president, Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, was convicted of embezzling public money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Obiang has denied any wrongdoing.

Equatorial Guinea had appealed the decision to seize the mansion, but the court’s decision was upheld last year.

Obiang is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who is Africa’s longest-serving leader.

The president has been in power in the oil-rich state since 1979 and appointed his son as his deputy in 2012.

The vice-president, 54, has drawn criticism in international media reports for his extravagant spending habits.

Between 2000 and 2011, Obiang acquired a collection of luxury assets and properties in France, including the Square de l’Avenue Foch mansion located in Paris’s wealthy 16th district.

The mansion is described on Christie’s auction website as having a “comfortable and prestigious interior”, which includes an indoor swimming pool, a home cinema and a private night club.

But in 2017, the mansion was seized after Obiang was convicted of embezzlement in a French court. He was also given a three-year suspended sentence in absentia and a €30m (£26.3m) fine.

Obiang denied the charges, saying his wealth had come from legitimate sources, and sought to block the confiscation of the mansion in an appeals court. But the ruling was upheld.

Now Equatorial Guinea has launched a new case against France at the ICJ and has asked the court to block the sale of the mansion.

This time, it alleges France has violated its obligations under the United Nations convention against corruption, according to the ICJ.

Aside from the cases in France, assets have been confiscated from Obiang in the US, Brazil and Switzerland. He was also subjected to anti-corruption sanctions in the UK last year.

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