FACTBOX-African leaders' French assets under scrutiny

Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:52am GMT

French police found that Sassou-Nguesso and his close relatives own 24 properties and 112 bank accounts in France.

They found that Sassou-Nguesso's daughter Edith, who was Bongo's late wife, and other members of the ruling family of Congo, bought a mansion in the rich 8th district of Paris for 18.9 million euros -- the single biggest transaction mentioned in the police file.

In an interview in March with French newspaper Le Figaro, Sassou-Nguesso said his French property portfolio was modest and he was not responsible for what his children and relatives did.

He said he had acquired Villa Suzette, a mansion in the rich Paris suburb of Le Vesinet, to house his children while they were studying in France.


A former Spanish colony, tiny Equatorial Guinea burst onto the sub-Saharan African oil scene relatively late, in 1992, and has quickly risen to the rank of third-biggest producer, after Nigeria and Angola. Oil output is estimated at 380,000 bpd.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo seized power from his dictatorial uncle in a palace coup in 1979 and has ruled ever since. Amnesty International says his human rights record is one of the worst on the continent.

French police identified eight luxury cars and one apartment in a wealthy part of Paris owned by Obiang's son Teodorin, also minister for agriculture and forestry. The cars, worth a total of 4.2 million euros, are two Ferraris, one Maybach, two Bugattis, one Rolls-Royce Phantom and two Maseratis.

Authorities in Equatorial Guinea have not responded specifically to the French investigation, although they have defended their record in the past, saying it was legal in their country for ministers to receive commissions on business deals. (For a related analysis, please double click on [ID:nLR519071]) (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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