Son Of African Dictator Forced To Sell Malibu Mansion, Michael Jackson Statues In Deal With Feds
The vice president of Equatorial Guinea, who is also the son of the country's leader, has reached a settlement with the federal government that will force him to sell about $34 million in assets, including a Malibu mansion, Ferrari, and six life-sized Michael Jackson statues.The settlement stems from three civil suits the U.S. government filed against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue since 2011 that allege that he and members of the government of the oil-rich African nation, led by his father Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo since 1979, have been looting from the country in order to live lavish lifestyles while most of the population languishes. The figure is about half of what the government originally sought to seize from Obiang, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the AP, $20 million of the proceeds will go towards a charity to benefit his country of 750,000 people. $10.3 million will be forfeited to the U.S. government, which will use that money to benefit Equatorial Guineans to the extent that it can.
Although Obiang's salary from his home government is officially $100,000, the U.S. government alleges that he has used his power to amass a wealth that has allowed him to purchase items including a Gulfstream jet, luxury boat, and a massive Michael Jackson memorabilia collection. The collection, which includes the red "Thriller" jacket and the rhinestone-encrusted glove from the Bad tour, went on display last year in the Equatorial Guinean capital as part of an exhibit. Under the terms of the settlement, Obiang will be allowed to keep the jacket and glove.
Obiang admits no wrongdoing and wrote in a statement, "I agreed to settle this case despite the fact that the U.S. federal courts had consistently found that the Department of Justice lacked probable cause to seize my property."
"While this settlement is certainly gratifying for the many investigators and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition, it is undoubtedly even more rewarding for the people of Equatorial Guinea, knowing that at least some of the money plundered from their country's coffers is being returned to them," the director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Winkowski, said in a statement.