The son of Equatorial Guinea’s president is going on trial in France accused of buying real estate, sports cars and other luxury goods with public funds from his country.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also Equatorial Guinea’s second vice president, faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement after a years-long investigation.
Obiang’s lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, said he will ask for a delay in proceedings when the hearing starts today, arguing that his client who is not expected to attend the trial did not get enough time to prepare his defense. It is unclear whether Obiang is in France.
The International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest court, refused to order France to halt the prosecution last month after Equatorial Guinea argued that Obiang had immunity.
Obiang’s trial came after two non-governmental organizations targeting corruption and an association of Congolese citizens living abroad launched a lawsuit in France nearly 10 years ago.
Known in France as the case of the “ill-gotten gains,” the complaint accused several African heads of state, including the late Gabon president Omar Bongo, of embezzling state funds during or after their tenure to buy properties in France.
According to court documents, Obiang used to book hotel rooms in luxury Parisian palaces during his stays in France and later bought a mansion located on one of the most sought-after avenues in the French capital.