LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Federal prosecutors took steps Tuesday to seize a Malibu mansion, Gulfstream jet and nearly $2 million in Michael Jackson memorabilia belonging to Equatorial Guinea’s agriculture minister, who
allegedly plundered his country’s resources.
Civil forfeiture complaints filed in Washington. D.C., and unsealed in Los Angeles federal court allege Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the dictator of the Central African country, used his position to siphon more than
$100 million in cash and property through money laundering and corruption.
“We are sending the message loud and clear: the United States will not be a hiding place for the ill-gotten riches of the world’s corrupt leaders,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer.
“While his people struggled, he lived the high life — purchasing a Gulfstream jet, a Malibu mansion and nearly $2 million in Michael Jackson memorabilia,” Breuer said. “Alleging that these extravagant items are the proceeds of foreign official corruption, the Department of Justice is seeking to seize them through coordinated forfeiture actions.”
Prosecutors moved to recover more than $70 million which the U.S. government alleges is the result of foreign corruption offenses and was laundered in this country.
Nguema is the son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, who took power in a bloody 1979 coup.
Despite an official government salary of less than $100,000 per year, Nguema amassed more than $100 million from the extraction and sale of his country’s natural resources, the complaints allege.
Under Equatoguinean law, the natural resources belong to the people of Equatorial Guinea.
The complaints allege that Nguema used intermediaries and corporate entities to acquire, in the United States, such assets as a $38.5 million Gulfstream G-V jet, a $30 million house in Malibu, and a 2011 Ferrari valued at more than $530,000.