The son of the president of Equatorial Guinea is no stranger to controversy. His latest escapades got him stripped down by the Brazillian customs who uncovered and seized $16m in cash and luxury watches.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who is also the vice-president of the West African country, arrived in Brazil late Friday night on a non-official mission. He was accompanied by 11 other people, none of whom had diplomatic immunity.
According to O Estado de São Paulo, Brazilian police found $1.5m in cash in one bag and watches worth an estimated $15m in another. The act was flagged as Brazil only requires people to enter the country with no more than $2400 in cash.
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At the time the news hit the stands, the Brazilian foreign ministry was in consultation with police and customs over the issue to determine what measures must be taken.
There has been no official word from the Equatorial Guinea embassy in Brazil over the matter, although a diplomat was quoted saying that the money was to fund a medical procedure the younger Obiang was to undergo. The watches, according to the diplomat, was for the president’s son’s personal use as they were engraved with his initials.
Obiang has come under constant criticism for his lavish lifestyle at the expense of Equatorial Guineans. He has also been the subject of many money-laundering and corruption charges.
In 2017, he was accused of money laundering and was handed a three-year suspended sentence in France. The court also ordered the seizure of his assets in France, estimated to be worth $116 million at the time.
In 2011, a petition requesting the confiscation of Obiang’s $70 million worth of assets in the U.S. was dismissed but Obiang agreed to forfeit some funds and assets including a fancy Malibu home, a Ferrari, and portions of his Michael Jackson’s memorabilia collection.
In 2016, the government of Switzerland seized a number of Obiang’s luxurious vehicles and a yacht estimated to be worth $100 million.
Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s poorest nation and has Africa’s longest-serving president estimated to be worth $200m.