- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
The party may be coming to an end for Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Equatorial Guinea’s heir apparent and the world’s richest minister of agriculture and forestry. The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint against Teodorin, son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in June, seeks tens of millions of dollars in assets in the Untied States the feds say were purchased with dirty money laundered in the United States. Now, French prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Teodorin, after he refused to be interviewed by magistrates on graft charges:
Since 2010 French judges have been probing allegations of corruption under President Obiang, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.
Investigating magistrates Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman issued the warrant on Thursday, four months after beginning proceedings and after Obiang refused a second summons for questioning.
The charges were 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 ($210 million). […] In September last year, 11 of the family’s luxury cars were seized in Paris as part of the probe. Police in February searched an Obiang residence in an upmarket Paris district, removing vanloads of possessions.
Obiang is claiming immunity sovereign immunity as vice president of Equatorial Guinea. He also enjoys diplomatic immunity as the recently appointed deputy head of mission to Paris-headquartered UNESCO. As sovereign immunity is generally recognized except in cases of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it seems pretty unlikely that prosecutors could make charges stick. Short of going all Danny Glover, the best foreign governments can probably do is take away Teodorin’s toys and revoke his priveleges.
If, as expected, internationally-indicted Teodorin takes over from his father as president of the budding petrostate and U.S. ally, things should really get interesting.
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.| Turtle Bay |