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

Financial Mail - - AT HOME & ABROAD - @jus­tice­malala

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

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