The UK government has sanctioned the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president for misappropriating millions and spending it on luxury mansions, private jets and a $275,000 (£199,600) crystal-encrusted glove worn by Michael Jackson.
Teodoro Obiang Mangue, the son and vice president of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, participated in “corrupt contracting arrangements and solicit[ed] bribes, to fund a lavish lifestyle inconsistent with his official salary as a government minister”, the Foreign Office said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced new UK sanctions against Obiang and four other individuals involved in “serious corruption” in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Iraq and Equatorial Guinea.
One of the famous gloves that Michael Jackson wore to the 1983 Grammy Awards. File pic
Obiang bought a $100m (£72m) mansion in Paris, a $38m (£28m) private jet, dozens of luxury vehicles – among them Ferraris, Bentleys and Astons Martins – as well as a “collection” of Jackson memorabilia, including a crystal-studded glove worn by the late singer during his 1980s Bad tour.
In 2013, the US government became embroiled in a legal battle to prevent the glitzy handwear from falling into Obiang’s hands, claiming it was bought with “dirty money”.
The UK will impose asset freezes and travel bans against the five individuals to ensure they are no longer able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.
Mr Raab said: “The action we have taken today targets individuals who have lined their own pockets at the expense of their citizens.
“The UK is committed to fighting the blight of corruption and holding those responsible for its corrosive effect to account.
“Corruption drains the wealth of poorer nations, keeps their people trapped in poverty and poisons the well of democracy.”
The UK ?? has today sanctioned five more corrupt individuals under our Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime.
We will do all we can to fight the blight of corruption and pursue those that line their pockets at the expense of developing nations. https://t.co/hn8YQwjfFr
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) July 22, 2021
According to UNICEF, a third of Equatorial Guinea’s population does not have access to basic sanitation, and the World Bank estimates more than 76% of the population live in poverty. Meanwhile, investigations show that Obiang has spent over $500m since he was appointed government minister in 1998.
His father has ruled Equatorial Guinea since taking power in a coup in 1979, 11 years after independence from Spain.
The crystal glove became a part of Jackson’s signature look – pictured in 1984 performing during the opening night of his Victory tour in LA. File pic
Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei from Zimbabwe, Alex Nain Saab Moran and Alvaro Enrique Pulido Vargas from Venezuela, and Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan from Iraq will also face the same restrictions.
The measures follow the first tranche of UK sanctions which, in April, targeted 22 individuals involved in serious corruption cases in Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and Latin America.