DADDY’S BOYS IN A PICKLE
It’s beginning to look a bit rough out there for the thieving sons of crooked leaders who’ve been treating the Treasury as the family piggy bank
There was a time, not too long ago, when being a kleptocrat’s son was just grand. I confess I considered it as a career myself. For three seconds. But you need a crooked dad. Jacob Zuma was busy.
There were benefits. You could fly across the globe freely, spend your starving compatriots’ money like there was no tomorrow and buy property in fantastic foreign locations.
Not any more. It’s beginning to look a bit rough out there if your dad has been dipping into the public coffers for years while treating the National Treasury as the family’s personal piggy bank.
Take Teodorin, son of the global godfather of kleptocrats, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who masquerades as president of Equatorial Guinea. Good old Teodoro has been in power since 1979. Term limits? What term limits? He came to power by removing his uncle from state house — permanently. Teodorin’s dad is one of our continent’s most brutal and corrupt rulers: opponents are jailed and murdered, and the country’s vast oil wealth goes to family and cronies while his people live in abject poverty. If you thought this stuff was crazy, consider this: Teodorin is his dad’s vice-president.
Anyway, two weeks ago Teodorin arrived on a private plane in São Paulo, Brazil. The police asked to have a looksee in the old private jet. Lo and behold, they found $1.5m in cash in one bag and watches worth $15m in another. The Brazilians immediately seized the loot.
Help me here: what the heck is he doing with that much cash? Do I hear the words “money laundering” at the back there? Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister moaned that the seizure was “measly and unfriendly”. If I were him I would ask how exactly the money left the country, but hey …
Young Teodorin has form in this sort of thing: a French court convicted him in absentia of embezzling public funds and seized his assets in France valued at more than $115m; the Swiss seized 11 of his luxury cars; he handed over $30m worth of properties to US officials.
In Angola former president José Eduardo dos Santos’s son, José Filomeno, has been charged with the fraudulent transfer of $500m from the country’s sovereign wealth fund to an account in Britain. I guess that explains why his dad appointed him head of the $5bn fund in the first place.
All this stuff must be making Robert Mugabe’s sons, who live in SA in a lovely house in Hyde Park, quite nervous. My activist friends are always welcome to contact me for directions to the house — bought with money that should by rights be helping the poor people of Zimbabwe.
The guy who should really be worried, though, is Duduzane Zuma, son of the more famous Jacob of Nkandla, and his friends the Gupta family. This lot has been safely ensconced in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Safely? Not any more. SA and the UAE have now signed “mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties”. It means Duduzane and the Guptas could be seen here in the beautiful south looking rather resplendent in court chains. We’ve already seen Duduzane “Innocent”
Zuma in those. His friends may be next. I like international treaties. We really should sign one with Qatar, which Zuma père visited last month. Why, I wonder? Did he take the opportunity to invite his son to hop across from Dubai to see him in Doha? What was in the bags that Duduzane brought? Legal aid?
Or maybe Duduzane, the international businessman, brought nothing. After all, look what happened to Teodorin and José Filomeno when they brought cash or tried their hands at DIY international transfers.
It just isn’t the same any more for the thieving sons of crooked leaders.
After the SAUAE treaty, Duduzane and the Guptas could be back in the beautiful south looking rather resplendent in court chains