Teodorin Obiang Nguema hands over 25 luxury cars and $1.3 million to buy his freedom from the Swiss authorities

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue
  • The lavish leader who likes the finer things in life is off the hook with just a slap on the wrist.
  • Obiang, 50, and two other individuals had been facing prosecution for "money laundering and misappropriation of public assets."
  • On Thursday, Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Mr Obiang but were confiscating luxury cars as part of the case.

Equatorial Guinea's Vice President Teodorin Obiang Nguema, who is also the son of Equatorial Guinea's authoritarian leader is a free man despite multiple suits of corruption and money laundering levelled against him and may never see the inside of a police cell.

The lavish leader who likes the finer things in life is off the hook with just a slap on the wrist. Obiang, 50, and two other individuals had been facing prosecution for "money laundering and misappropriation of public assets."

On Thursday, Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Mr Obiang but were confiscating luxury cars as part of the case.

25 luxury cars which had been seized as part of the investigation, had been confiscated, the statement said.

"They will be sold and the net proceeds of the sale will be assigned to a social programme within Equatorial Guinea," it said.

In a statement, the public prosecutor for the canton (region) of Geneva said Equatorial Guinea was also paying $1.3m "to cover the cost of proceedings."

Under the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can choose to drop charges in this category if defendants offer compensation "and restore a situation that is in conformity with the law."

The decision also entails lifting a sequestration order that investigators had slapped on a yacht in the Netherlands, the Ebony Shine, in December 2016, it said.

The statement, however, did not give details about the cars or which of the defendants owned them.

In 2016, a Swiss weekly newspaper called L'Hebdo reported that the batch included a Porsche 918 Spider valued at $850 518, a Bugatti Veyron worth $2.2m and a Swedish supercar, the Koenigsegg One:1.

Only half a dozen Koenigsegg One:1 models have ever been built, with each selling for a reputed $2.4m.

Mr Obiang is not a stranger to crime and has had several brushes with the law.

In October 2017, a Paris court handed him a three-year suspended jail term after convicting Obiang of syphoning off public money to buy assets in France.

He was accused of spending more than 1 000 times his official annual salary on a six-storey mansion in a posh part of the French capital, a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets.

He was also given a suspended fine of $34m.

In September, Brazilian media said that more than $16m in cash and luxury watches were seized by Brazilian police and customs officers from the luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang on a private visit.

Obiang is reputedly on a fast track to succeed his father, 76, who has ruled the tiny oil-rich West African state since 1979, ousting his uncle in a coup.

Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general.

The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.

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