France’s highest appeal court has upheld a guilty verdict against the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president for embezzlement, paving the way for the potential return of tens of millions of dollars to the country’s people.
Wednesday’s ruling on Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also the vice president of the Gulf of Guinea nation, came after he was handed a three-year suspended sentence and a $35m fine at the end of his trial in absentia in 2020. Luxury assets seized in France during the investigation were ordered to be confiscated.
Transparency International, which was party to the case, has estimated that the seized goods, which include a mansion in the heart of the French capital, are worth about $177m.
The residence at the centre of the dispute is a luxury residence on Avenue Foch in Paris – a grand, sweeping road near the Arc de Triomphe. It has 101 rooms, a gym, a hairdressing studio and a disco with a cinema screen.
Now that there can be no more appeals in his case, the assets are set to be put on sale under a new French law, which stipulates that the money, instead of going to the French state’s coffers, should go back to Equatorial Guinea. That could be done via local or international NGOs or France’s development aid fund.