Equatorial Guinea has demanded the lifting of "unilateral and illegal" sanctions imposed for corruption by the United Kingdom against the son of the president of this Central African country, in a statement released Saturday by the Equatorial Guinean authorities.
Teodorin Obiang Mangue, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea and son of the president, was sanctioned on Thursday by London for the "misappropriation of public funds" and bribes that enabled him to finance a lavish lifestyle.
He allegedly spent more than $500 million on luxury homes around the world, a private jet, cars, and collectibles related to the singer Michael Jackson.
"The unfounded sanctions imposed by the British government are justified by the manipulations, lies (...) that some non-governmental organizations promote against the good image of Equatorial Guinea," according to the statement of the authorities, which refers to "unilateral and illegal" sanctions.
The vice president "has not made any investments in the United Kingdom," they continued.
The sanctions, which include an asset freeze and bans on entry to the UK, were taken as part of an anti-corruption sanctions regime that had already punished 22 individuals from six different countries, including Russia, in April.
The Equatorial Guinean authorities reject "legally unfounded sanctions", demand "that they be lifted as soon as possible" and perceive "as an unfriendly gesture the attitude of the British government".
"The measures we have taken today target individuals who have enriched themselves at the expense of their citizens," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement Thursday. The vice president of Equatorial Guinea was sanctioned for, among other things, "misappropriating public money from his personal bank account" and "soliciting bribes."
"The UK's decision to sanction Teodorin is welcome news for the people of Equatorial Guinea," Tutu Alicante, director of the exiled Equatorial Guinean human rights NGO EG Justice, reacted in a statement. "This is a step in the right direction, a reminder that corruption is not a victimless crime," he continued, noting that most of the country's 1.4 million people live without access to "clean water and decent schools.
Equatorial Guinea has been ruled for more than 41 years by 79-year-old Teodoro Obiang Nguema, and Teodorin, who has been omnipresent on the public scene for more than a year, is being presented more and more openly as his "successor.
This country with an economy seriously at half-mast due to the fall in hydrocarbon prices since 2014, on which it is 90% dependent, has devoted 95 billion CFA francs to Defense (140 million euros) in its 2020 budget against 59 billion to Education (90 million euros).
In France, in the so-called "ill-gotten gains" case, Teodorin Obiang was sentenced on appeal on February 10, 2020 to three years in prison with a suspended sentence, 30 million euros in fines and confiscation of his assets in France. A final ruling by the Court of Cassation - the highest court in the French judicial system - is expected on July 28.