Amid several investigations by France into how several African leaders acquired their wealth, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodorin Obiang, is now on trial for money laundering and corruption, Forbes reports.
The trial got under way after the United Nations denied a request by Equatorial Guinea at the end of last year to halt proceedings on the argument that Obiang is covered by diplomatic immunity. Obiang is the son of the country’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
The charges, as part of the trial with Obiang in absentia, center on the misuse of state funds as the official allegedly bought a six-story villa in Paris for $100 million and bought several “ultra-expensive” sports cars.
The financial publication noted that Obiang’s trial remains the first of an African leader since France began looking into the financial activities of those officials. The investigations themselves come as France had been asked by anti-corruption organizations to track money being laundered into Europe and subsequently used to buy up property.
Forbes reported that Obiang has been accused by prosecutors of siphoning funds from a tax on sales of wood — levied during his time as agriculture minister from between 2004 and 2011 — to his own bank accounts. And because of those proceeds taken from the country (a large oil producer but also a country where more than half of the population lives on the equivalent of less than $1 daily), he has been able to buy yachts, a jet and other luxuries. In December of last year, said Forbes, Dutch authorities seized control of Ebony Shine, a yacht “allegedly owned” by Obiang.