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Thu Oct 23 15:47:48 SAST 2014

France seizes supercars from dictator's son

Staff Reporter | 02 October, 2011 00:57

French police have seized a R64-million collection of supercars belonging to Teodorin Obiang Mbasogo, eldest son of the president of Equatorial Guinea.

Police conducting a money-laundering probe into Obiang's father, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, swooped on a R200-million Paris mansion on Friday and seized 11 cars - including two Bugatti Veyrons worth about R16-million each.

French officials are conducting an inquiry into allegations that Obiang snr, 69, who is also the chairman of the African Union, used his government's money to buy property in France.

The Obiang family is believed to have stashed about R4-billion in offshore bank accounts since Obiang snr came into power 30 years ago.

His son Teodorin, 40, is also no stranger to controversy. In 2007 the Sunday Times reported how his two Cape Town mansions were attached over unpaid debt. He was taken to court by an SA construction company which claimed the oil-rich country owed it almost R50-million.

Earlier this year Obiang jnr came under fire from corruption watchdog Global Witness for commissioning a superyacht, valued at R2-billion, with a cinema, bar and swimming pool.

Obiang jnr bought two properties in Cape Town valued at more than R70-million. He also splurged R3.5-million on a Lamborghini Murcielago and two Bentleys at the time.

The Daily Mail this weekend reported that other cars seized in the Paris raid included a Ferrari 599 GTO and a Maserati MC12, all of which were registered to Teodorin's father.

But, the paper reported, an employee at the house told French police the cars were mainly used by his flashy son.

The report said police believe the cars were bought as part of a money-laundering scheme to smuggle cash into France.

The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying: "There is an ongoing judicial investigation into money laundering and other crimes related to the receipt of foreign aid ... these seizures have resulted from this inquiry."

The report said the seized cars could be sold on auction.

Questions have been asked over the family's lavish lifestyle while most of Equatorial Guinea's people live in poverty.

African Economic Outlook reported that more than 70% of the country's people live below the poverty line and its economy per gross domestic product grew just 1.2% in 2010.

The Daily Mail said the Paris mansion is mostly used by the family for shopping excursions.

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