The son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator and Africa’s longest serving leader, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has recently been caught out by Brazilian federal police forces, who seized approximately US $16 million worth of cash and luxury goods from his private aeroplane.
The leader’s son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who is also Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President was travelling on Friday September 14 from Viracopos airport, near São Paulo.
According to federal police forces, around US $1.5 million in cash was found in one bag, $15 million worth of 20 jewel-encrusted watches in another, as well as the plane itself, valued at $3.5 million.
Equatorial Guinean diplomat Lemenio Akuben, who was approached by local newspaper Estadão, claimed the money was to be spent on medical treatment for the Vice President, as well as stays in luxury hotels and a work trip to Singapore. The watches, he claimed, were for Teodorin’s personal use as each had his initials engraved.
At the time the Estadão report was published, the Equatorial Guinean embassy in Brasília did not respond to requests for comment.
In Brazil, revenue law states that individuals entering the country may only carry cash worth up to $10 million reais (around US $2.5 million). This value of cash was released later in the afternoon.
As the only member of the group with diplomatic immunity, the 48-year-old Vice President was not included in the search operation of the aeroplane and continued by helicopter to the city of São Paulo.
According to Estadão, the Vice President is notorious in Brazil for his lavish parties and samba school sponsorship during the 2015 Rio de Janeiro carnival which won the Beija Flor school top honours. The school were, however, then criticised for receiving funding from Equatorial Guinea’s dictatorial regime.
Speaking to Brazil’s foreign ministry, news agency AFP reported that federal police forces were still in the process of deciding what actions should be taken.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang was also sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence in France last October for money laundering. Human Rights Watch have previously alleged that his father, dictator Nguema, has long-since used the country’s oil resources to fund his own personal spending habits, at the expense of his people.