E.Guinea leader condemns probe into French assets

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Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Saturday criticised a French court's decision to approve a corruption probe into his assets, saying different standards apply in poorer countries.

"When speaking of good governance, it must happen based on our criteria and not on Western criteria," Obiang said during a meeting with African journalists broadcast on state television, his first public comments since the November 9 ruling.

"There are lots of political systems the West wants to impose on us which do not correspond with our level," he said.

France's top appeals court ruled that magistrates could investigate the source of money spent in France by Obiang, Congo-Brazzaville's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon who died last year.

The charges have been brought by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption campaign group which alleges the leaders and their relatives spent state funds from their countries on lavish purchases in France.

TI alleges Obiang owned more than four million euros' worth of vehicles in France, while altogether the three leaders had accumulated French assets worth 160 million euros (219 million dollars).

Obiang accused TI of running a campaign of disinformation, and criticised rich nations of a "savage exploitation" of his country's natural resources.

© 2010 AFP

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