Michael Jackson memorabilia will pay for Covid shots in Equatorial Guinea
The US Department of Justice stated in a statement Monday that almost $27 million confiscated from Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue will be spent on Covid-19 vaccinations for the country.
Luxury cars and a pair of $275,000 jewel-encrusted gloves belonging to Michael Jackson were confiscated.
The judgment follows a forfeiture agreement reached in 2014 between the United States and Obiang, who is accused of purchasing properties in the nation using ill-gotten earnings.
Mangue has denied the allegations.
The United Nations will receive $19.25 million to purchase and distribute vaccines in the Central African country, while a US-based charity will receive $6.35 million “for the purchase and distribution of medicines and medical supplies throughout Equatorial Guinea,” according to the justice department.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement reached between Obiang and the US government, the Equatorial Guinea leader “was required to sell a $30 million Malibu, California, mansion, a Ferrari automobile, and various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia, as well as to contribute $1 million representing the value of other property,” the DOJ stated.
The arrangement also allowed the US to keep $10.3 million of the forfeited earnings, with the remainder going to Equatorial Guinean initiatives.
According to the World Bank, more over 76 percent of the Central African country’s 1.4 million inhabitants live in poverty.
“Wherever feasible, Kleptocrats will be denied the advantages of corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. in a statement.
Obiang, 53, has been in the limelight as a worldwide anti-corruption and money-laundering operation has focused on the source of his huge riches.
In July, a French appeals court affirmed Obiang’s guilty sentence for embezzlement, possibly paving the door for the return of millions of euros to Equatorial Guinea.
Obiang was previously convicted in France and handed a suspended three-year term, as well as a $35 million fine, for illegally acquiring luxury homes. His opulent possessions were also seized.
The French court’s decision came only days after Britain issued fines against Obiang for misappropriating millions of pounds, which officials alleged were spent on luxury residences, private planes, and a $275,000 glove worn by Michael Jackson.
London had announced sanctions that included asset freezes and a travel restriction.
Following a corruption investigation, Swiss police confiscated Obiang’s collection of luxury automobiles in 2016.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Obiang’s father, has controlled the oil-rich but poor Equatorial Guinea since a coup in 1979, eleven years after independence from Spain.
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