Harsher sentence in appeal for Teodoro Obiang Jr: “France is no longer a welcoming country for the proceeds of laundered and dirty money”
Paris, 10.02.2020 – The Paris Court of Appeal rendered its decision in the trial of Teodoro Obiang Jr, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea. It confirmed the three-year suspended imprisonment sentence and the confiscation of its assets on the French territory worth an estimated 150 million euros. The fine was transformed from a 30 million-euro conditional one in first instance to a 30 million-euro firm one . Mr Obiang may appeal to the the French Cour de cassation.
Transparency International France (TI-France), as complainant in this case since 2009, and Sherpa which filed the first complaint in this case applaud this verdict.
“The Paris Court of Appeal confirms that France is no longer a welcoming country for the proceeds of laundered and dirty money”, TI-France Chairman Marc-André Feiffer declared.
According to Sherpa,
“this conviction is not only Teodoro Obiang Jr.’s but also the one of a large-scale money laundering scheme in ill-gotten gains cases. The recent indictments of Parisian intermediaries in some of these cases – “facilitators” who have been sparred until now – is another sign of firmness.”
Equatorial Guinean lawyer and Chairman of the EG Justice NGO Tutu Alicante testified in first instance and appeal.
“This verdict is a victory, yet symbolic, but still a victory. Because the 150 million confiscated from Teodoro Obiang Jr. by France are the tip of the corruption iceberg in Equatorial Guinea. The Obiang Clan uses all the means at its disposal to enrich itself at the expense of the people. It then discredits and intimidates those like me who are trying to denounce the endemic corruption that undermines the country. Defending integrity in Equatorial Guinea means de facto to be condemned to exile and live in fear halfway over the world. It also means to be condemned to be unable to obtain justice in its own country. This trial should have been in Equatorial Guinea but how can it be organized considering the Obiang Clan’s stranglehold on the country?”.
Pursuant to a 2017 investigation by Human Rights Watch on the disastrous impact of corruption on education and healthcare in Equatorial Guinea, the country has one of the highest GDP per capita in Africa. Nevertheless, more than 70 percent of the 1 million inhabitants live with less than 1 dollar per day. Half of the population does not have access to drinkable water and more than 40% of school-age children are out of school. Teodoro Obiang Jr.’s assets confiscated abroad must therefore be returned to the Guinean people.
The return of confiscated assets is indeed the backdrop of ill-gotten gains cases. Marc-André Feffer adds:
“ French law does not allow the return of confiscated assets to the looted populations. The sums are reverted to the general budget of the French government. We denounce this situation which constitutes a double penalty for the Equatorial Guinean people. They are the primary victims of these money-laundering operations, and we are working to ensure that this money is returned to them in the form of development programs. To this end, we hope to see a law passed by the French Parliament soon. It should provide for the full and complete involvement of civil society, both in France and in the country of origin. We are working on it with the same determination as we are demonstrating in this judicial marathon”.