E Guinea president has just one French house

9th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, accused of snapping up French real estate with plundered state money, owns no more than a single house in France, the government said Friday.

LIBREVILLE - Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, accused of snapping up French real estate with plundered state money, owns no more than a single house in France, the government said Friday.

In a statement to AFP, the information ministry said the president -- in power since a coup d'etat in August 1979 -- "owns just one property asset in France, a detached house, as no doubt millions of Europeans do."

He acquired the residence in 1986, "well before the discovery of oil deposits in our country," it said, adding that Obiang Nguema has no other assets in France or even a bank account there.

The statement came two days after a French judge agreed to look into allegations that Obiang Nguema and his Gabonese and Congo-Brazzaville counterparts Omar Bongo Ondimba and Denis Sassou Nguesso, along with their entourages, have luxury properties in France bought with embezzled funds.

The case was lodged in December by the anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International France and the French non-governmental organisation Sherpa as well as by a Gabonese citizen.

Prosecutors intend to appeal, saying Transparency International did not itself directly suffer any losses and therefore has no right to make a case.

In its statement, Equatorial Guinea invited Tranparency International to visit to see for itself that its resources were being used "to build infrastructure, notably roads, social housing, hospitals and schools".

"To be a property owner is not reprehensible," it added. "Millions of French people are, including politicians at the highest level. Why should it not be the same for Africans? We only ask: Leave us in peace."

AFP / Expatica

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