All the president’s playboys
South Africa was shocked by the lavish lifestyles of Robert Mugabe’s two sons when details began to emerge earlier this year: the flashy apartment in Sandton, Africa’s richest suburb; the designer threads; the endless stream of topend champagne. Even as Zimbabwe starved, its first family partied.
But they weren’t partying hard enough — at least not by the standards of another presidential playboy.
Teodorin Obiang is the son and heir to the president of Equatorial Guinea — Africa’s longest-serving president (38 years and counting). He is also the country’s vice-president, waiting to inherit the throne from his ageing father.
While he waits, the 48-year-old Obiang Jr has been living a life of luxury, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on fast cars, fancy houses and all the other accoutrements of the ultrarich.
He owns a 76m luxury yacht, the Ebony Shine, which was impounded by Dutch authorities in December 2016. No matter: Obiang Jr owns a second luxury yacht, the Ebony Ice, which is even longer. The pair together are worth $250-million.
To put this in perspective: about three-quarters of the population of Equatorial Guinea lives below the poverty line of $1.90 per day.
But Obiang Jr’s taste for the high life may finally be catching up with him. Suspicion about the source of his wealth has prompted investigations in at least four different countries, as well as a criminal trial in France. Earlier this week, the French court returned its verdict, finding him guilty of corruption and money laundering. The court handed down a suspended sentence of three years in jail and a €30-million fine, and seized more than $100-million in assets.
“This verdict against Teodorin Obiang is further proof that rampant government corruption in Equatorial Guinea has robbed its people of their country’s oil wealth,” said Sarah Saadoun, business and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The French government should repatriate the money ensuring it goes to key services where it should have been spent.”
The list of assets confiscated from Obiang Jr in France and elsewhere in the world illustrate the extraordinary scale of his spending.
In France, authorities seized a 101room mansion in Paris, complete with its own private club and goldplated bathrooms; a collection of supercars; and original paintings by Degas and Renoir.
In Switzerland, another collection
“Through relentless embezzlement and extortion, VicePresident Obiang shamelessly looted his government”
Hustler: Vice-president Teodorin Obiang — the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang — flaunts his lavish lifestyle despite the extreme poverty faced by many in his country. Photo: Jerome Leroy/AFP