Equatorial Guinea lashed the French judiciary for “meddling” in its affairs after a Paris court handed the son of its president a three-year suspended term and $32.9 million fine for embezzlement.
Teodorin Obiang, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, had been found guilty in 2017 of looting his country’s coffers to fund a jet-set lifestyle in Europe.
On Monday, an appeals court in Paris upheld a suspended jail term, confirmed a 30-million-euro fine that had previously been suspended and confiscated his assets.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Equatorial Guinea’s government accused the court of “unacceptable meddling” in its domestic affairs, and pointed the finger at “several NGOs”, which it did not name, for stirring up the matter.
These groups, it said, “have been making false accusations for years about corruption and money laundering, driven by the sole desire to destabilise our country.”
The investigation in France was launched after Transparency International and Sherpa, an NGO that campaigns against economic crimes, filed a complaint.
Teodorin Obiang, 51, was appointed vice president by his father in 2016, the latest in a series of apparent steps to groom him for succession.
Obiang senior, 77, last year marked his 40th year in power, which he seized from his uncle in a coup.
The authoritarian leader has seen off at least half a dozen assassination or coup attempts to become Africa’s longest-serving leader.
French prosecutors estimate that the younger Obiang laundered 150 million euros in misappropriated funds in France.
His assets included a 107-million-euro mansion in Paris, a fleet of supercars, paintings, a $4.2-million clock and wines worth thousands of euros a bottle.
France followed Switzerland and the United States in targeting Obiang assets suspected to have come from the proceeds of corruption.
The government communique said Equatorial Guinea “reserves the right to pursue any action under civilian and penal law under the highest international jurisdictions to seek redress for the damage caused.”
The president’s son was not in court for the ruling, just as he had not attended his initial trial.
But his lawyers have said they will appeal to the Court of Cassation, the highest tribunal for civil and criminal matters in France.
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