Written by 17 h 28 min Corruption and embezzlement, Strategic litigation

Procedures & Milestones : Ill-Gotten Gains – Equatorial Guinea

Teodorin Obiang

Teodorin Nguema Obiang, son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, also involved in the Ill-gotten Gains case – ©Afrik

May 2007 and July 2008The associations Sherpa, Survie, and the Federation of Congolese of the Diaspora file a complaint before the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Paris.  They denounce the actions of five foreign heads of state, including Teodoro Obiang Nguema, holding them liable for misappropriation of public funds, the products of which would have been invested in France.

A preliminary investigation is opened, and then closed on the grounds that the offense is insufficiently substantiated.

December 2, 2008: Transparency International France (TIF) and a Gabonese national file a complaint and civil suit before the investigating judge of Paris, implicating three foreign heads of state, including Teodoro Obiang Nguema, as well as certain people in their entourage.

November 9, 2010: The Superior Court of Appeals finally declares the complaint admissible.

March 2011: Alerts are issued by the Treatment of Information and Action against Illicit Financial Networks service [service de Traitement du Renseignement et Action contre les circuits Financiers clandestins] (TRACFIN) containing various communications connected to the Ill-gotten Gains case (BMA).

October 7, 2011TIF files a second complaint and civil suit, given the refusal by the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Paris to comply with the motion of the investigating judges to expand their jurisdiction to include facts uncovered by TRACFIN following the first complaint.

January 31, 2012: The Public Prosecutor finally signs a supplementary indictment for charges of money laundering and receipt of stolen goods in order to expand the jurisdiction of the investigating judges.

Reminder: The investigating judge may make enquiries solely through an indictment from the Public Prosecutor.  The indictment may be filed against a named or unnamed person.

When facts not considered in the indictment are brought to the attention of the investigating judge, he or she must immediately give the complaints or reports establishing these facts to the Public Prosecutor.

The Public Prosecutor may then: call for the investigating judge, through a supplementary indictment, to provide information on these new facts; call for a new investigation to be opened; refer the case to trial; order an inquiry; decide to close the case or carry out one of the measures provided for in Articles 41-1 through 41-3; or transmit the complaints or reports to the Public Prosecutor who is territorially competent.

– Police investigation

June 18, 2007The Public Prosecutor gives an order to the judicial police to investigate the facts concerning concealment of misappropriated public funds.

September 4, 2007The American authorities submit a request to the French authorities for mutual legal assistance in the investigation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his associates.

November 5, 2007: TRACFIN conveys information to the Public Prosecutor involving facts likely to substantiate criminal offenses in the Teodoro Obiang Nguema case. 

– Investigation

Voitures Obiang - ©incoxike

Seizure of luxury cars belonging to Teodorin Nguema Obiang, son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, at their residence at Avenue Foch in Paris – ©incoxike

Between September and October 2011: Luxury vehicles belonging to Teodoro Obiang Nguema are seized at his Avenue Foch and Avenue Marceau residences.

October 24, 2011Counsel for the president of Equatorial Guinea files a petition requesting restitution of the vehicles under dispute. 

April 23, 2012The investigating judge declares the motion for restitution of TNO’s vehicles inadmissible.  The lawyer for TNO files an appeal of this order.

June 21, 2012Maître Bourdon, lawyer for TIF, writes a letter to the deputy prosecutors in charge of the investigation in order to ask them to depose Irina Bokova, general director of UNESCO.  Her deposition could clarify the financing terms of the UNESCO-Obiang Prize.

November 19, 2012The Court of Appeals of Paris upholds the investigating judge’s order and refuses to grant restitution of TNO’s vehicles.


Last modified: 18 December 2019