Tag Archives: obiang

The Obiang family… still pillaging their country’s coffers…

The Wall Street Journal‘s “Corruptions Currents” blog is occasionally a useful tool in keeping track of evolving stories of corruption. Not that any of their articles focus on the U.S. political system…

One topic Corruptions Currents has been tracking involves Equatorial Guinea, whose President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, one of the sources for the dictator of Golongo, Ernest Koliba, in my novel Corruptions. Obiang and his family have been pillaging Guinean government funds for years, and the French and U.S. governments are finally cracking down.

Federal prosecutors argued last week they should be permitted to move forward with their efforts to seize hundreds of millions dollars of assets based in the U.S., including a  $38 million jet, belonging to the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, whom they claim  amassed a fortune through theft of his country’s resource wealth.

The Justice Department moved in October to seize a Gulfstream jet, Malibu mansion, and Michael Jackson memorabilia belonging to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. In court papers filed in Washington, D.C., and California federal district courts, prosecutors alleged broad and systemic corruption by both father and son.

According to ABC News, the Michael Jackson memorabilia includes the “white crystal-encrusted glove” from Jackson’s “Bad Tour.” I suppose when you steal that much money from your tiny, impoverished country, there’s not really that much you can spend it on other than meaningless crap.

Right from the novel: An African dictator and oil…

A key client in Corruptions, my novel of Washington, is African dictator Ernest Koliba of the imaginary nation of Golongo, off somewhere to the west of Nigeria. The model for Obiang could easily have been Equatorial Guinea’s dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — Obiang for short — whose 30-year stranglehold on the economy and the people of his country was described nicely last week in the New York Times.

Freedom House, the watchdog group, has ranked Equatorial Guinea among the nine most repressive “Worst of the Worst” nations in the world, along with Libya, Turkmenistan and Myanmar. It called the country’s government “a highly corrupt regime with one of the worst human rights records in Africa.”

Decades of repression and “systematic” torture, according to the United Nations, have created a culture of fear in this former Spanish colony of 670,000 people, Africa’s only Spanish-speaking country.

I last wrote of Equatorial Guinea in my post on the former Bill Clinton staffer who lobbied for Obiang, “Lanny Davis is scum,” around the time Lanny decided that accepting a contract to burnish this dictator’s image was beyond the pale, even for him. This Times piece makes clear how much America’s failure to criticize Obiang, with or without a lobbyist, is all about oil and power:

The current American ambassador here defended Mr. Obiang’s government against the statistics of the World Bank and human rights groups that show a huge gap between the country’s oil wealth — largely accruing to the Obiang family — and the widespread poverty of the population. Infant mortality, for instance, has actually increased since the discovery of oil here in the 1990s, the World Bank said, adding that Mr. Obiang holds “absolute executive power.”

“You can have a debate about every one of the statistics,” Ambassador Alberto M. Fernandez said. The American presence here is discreet but vital, and Mr. Obiang professes great love for the United States. Chevron, Marathon Oil and Noble Energy have substantial interests in Equatorial Guinea, onshore and off, and American oil workers are easily spotted at the diminutive airport at the edge of town. The sea around Bioko Island, where Malabo, the capital, is located, is dotted with telltale flares from oil company installations.

You can have a debate about “every one of the statistics”? Actually, you can’t debate infant mortality: children die by the thousands or they don’t. It seems that oil, at least in places that aren’t infiltrated with Twitter and Facebook the way that North Africa and the Middle East are, still rules the day.