Cars taken from African leader's son worth $18.5m at auction
Geneva - An auction house in Switzerland is set to sell 25 luxury cars including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis that Geneva authorities seized from the son of Equatorial Guinea's president in a money-laundering probe.
Swiss authorities say the sale Sunday by auctioneer Bonhams is expected to fetch some 18.5 million Swiss francs (dollars), with the proceeds going to a charity to benefit the people of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
The auction comes after the Geneva prosecutor's office announced in February it had closed a case against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the country's four-decade president, Teodoro Obiang, and two others following a probe of money laundering and mismanagement of public assets.
Swiss authorities seized the cars and ordered the sequestration of a yacht in 2016.
The yacht was released in the arrangement announced in February, under which Equatorial Guinea agreed to pay Geneva authorities 1.3 million Swiss francs "notably to cover procedural costs," the prosecutor's office said.
The standout lot in the auction is a white-and-cream Lamborghini Veneno roadster, one of only nine such versions produced, that has been driven only 325 kilometers (201 miles), Bonhams says. It is expected to fetch at least 5.2 million francs.
A Ferrari "LaFerrari" - featuring Formula 1 and GT inspiration - is set to fetch at least 2.6 million francs.
The Equatorial Guinea president's son, who is also a vice president, has been ensnared in legal trouble elsewhere. Last year, Brazilian officials said $16 million in undeclared cash and luxury watches that were seized from a delegation he led may have been part of an effort to launder money embezzled from the country's government. And a Paris court in 2017 convicted the son of embezzling millions of dollars in public money, although the case has been appealed.
The Geneva prosecutor's office in February cited rules allowing prosecutors to close cases in which the person under investigation had "repaired the damage or done everything that could have been expected of him or her to make up for the wrong that was caused."
The investigation involved authorities in the United States, the Cayman Islands, France, Monaco, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Marshall Islands.