Luxury cars seized from vice president Teodorin Obiang Nguema are expected to fetch $18m at Geneva auction
Sun 29 Sep 2019
A collection of luxury cars seized from Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, will be auctioned off in Switzerland and are estimated to bring in 18.5m Swiss francs ($18.7m).
“This is an exceptional sale,” Philip Kantor, of British auctioneers Bonhams, told AFP. “It’s a private collection of supercars, with very low mileage.”
Among the cars to go under the hammer at a Geneva golf club on Sunday are seven Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, five Bentleys, a Maserati and a McLaren.
The most expensive lots are a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, valued at between 4.8m and 5.7m euros ($5.2-6.2m) and a yellow Ferrari hybrid at 2.4-2.6m euros.
A F McLaren P1 Coupe arrives for auction at the Bonmont Golf & Country Club. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters
The cars were confiscated by Swiss justice after the opening in 2016 of a financial wrongdoing case against Obiang, son and likely heir of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled for 40 years. All will be sold with no reserve price.
In February Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Teodorin Obiang Nguema but were confiscating the luxury cars as part of the case.
Under the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can choose to drop charges in this category if defendants offer compensation “and restore a situation that is in conformity with the law”.
Equatorial Guinea has also agreed to give Geneva 1.3m Swiss francs to cover the costs of the case.
Vice president with responsibility for defence and security, Teodorin Obiang has a reputation for a playboy lifestyle.
In October 2017 a Paris court handed Obiang a three-year suspended jail term after convicting him of siphoning off public money to buy assets in France.
He was accused of spending more than 1,000 times his official annual salary on a six-storey mansion in a posh part of the French capital, a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets.
He was also given a suspended fine of 30m euros.
In September, Brazilian media said that more than $16m in cash and luxury watches were seized by Brazilian police and customs officers from luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang on a private visit.
Brazilian daily O Estado de Sao Paulo quoted a diplomatic source from Equatorial Guinea as saying the money was to pay for medical treatment Obiang was to undergo in Sao Paulo.
The watches were for the “personal use” of the president’s son and were engraved with his initials, the report said.
Obiang is reputedly on a fast track to succeed his father. Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general. The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.
The tiny West African nation is one of the continent’s top petroleum producers and has a population of just 1.2 million. The country is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the most corrupt in the world.