Teodorin Obiang has lived a charmed 40-some years:
Born into Equatorial Guinea's royal family, Obiang's “job” as the small, oil-rich country's Minister of Agriculture and Forestry allows him to indulge in $10 million party weekends and dozens of high-end cars and homes around the world — while his people barely survive on about $1 per day, and little drinking water. As we reported back in February, Obiang was recently looking to buy a yacht for $300 million; or, three times his country's health and education budget.
But the human-rights-infringing fairytale might finally be coming to an end.
After years of international investigations into possible money laundering by the Obiang family — headed by Tedorin's father, Teodoro — the U.S. Justice Department has filed a “lis pendens” on the dictator-in-training's $35 million Malibu monstrosity.
In other words: Though no criminal case has yet been opened against Obiang, the feds have indicated pending litigation by bringing a civil suit against his property. (This tactic is often used in drug-dealing cases — the drug house is targeted before the dealer, because prosecutors only have to show a civil burden of proof while developing a more solid case against their defendant.)
Quite amusingly, though, the mansion is not the only one of Obiang's toys listed in the DOJ filing. Take a gander at his stateside loot, which we can safely assume he acquired with dirty money:
- One white crystal-covered “Bad Tour” glove and other Michael Jackson memorabilia
- One gulfstream G-V jet airplane displaying tail number VPCES
- Real property located on Sweetwater Mesa Road in Malibu, California
- One 2007 Bentley Azire
- One 2008 Bugatti Veyron
- One 2008 Lamburgini Murcielago
- One 2008 Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe
- One 2009 Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe
- One 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
- One 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO
What is it with foreign dictators and their creepy pop-star obsessions? We know one “Bad Tour” glove was auctioned off to a Hong Kong hotelier for $300,000 last December — so either this is a different one, or it changed hands at some point. In any case, we're pretty sure the King of Pop wouldn't appreciate a prince who lets his nation's children starve while indulging in celeb memorabilia.
Also, the Royces? Really? How many rides does one jackass need?
Which brings us to Obiang's many removed accomplices right here in SoCal: Auctioneers, car dealers, real-estate agents and, last but not least, banks. (Occupy L.A., get madder.)
“What could and should have been done was due diligence from the banks that allowed the money to be transferred in,” says Ken Hurwitz, Equatorial Guinea legal affairs expert for the Open Society Justice Initiative. “He was using his lawyers, and in one case a broker, to bring money in. … Local entities could have done something.”
Obiang's lawyer was George I. Nagler of Beverly Hills. And real-estate agency Coldwell Banker, who also has offices located in the 90210, sold Obiang the Malibu property in 2006 for a very sketchy $35 million in cash — the most expensive home purchase in California that year.
So if Obiang is eventually convicted of money laundering, we've got some local anti-heroes who couldn't possibly have been oblivious to the dirt behind the deal. About time a federal department without greedy local ties stepped in and cleaned up the bloodbath on Sweetwater Mesa.