Equatorial Guinea playboy's Cape homes seized

Published Feb 16, 2006


Two luxury Cape Town homes belonging to the playboy son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema have been attached by a Johannesburg businessman, who claims the Equatorial Guinea government owes him $7-million (about R42-million).

While the R23,5-million house on Clifton Fourth Beach and R26m mansion in Constantia are registered in the name of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, 34, the minister of forestry, environment and housing in his father's government, lawyers for Kempton Park businessman George Ehlers have produced evidence to show that the properties were bought with Equatorial Guinea government funds.

The purchase of the homes was not out of the ordinary for the big-spending Teodorin, who reportedly spent R10m on two Bentleys and a 2005 six-litre Lamborghini during a shopping spree in Cape Town last year.

Most of Equatorial Guinea's 500 000 citizens live on a dollar a day, according to Unicef and Amnesty International.

Teodorin is the owner of the only government-approved private radio station in Equatorial Guinea, Radio Asonga.

He also runs Television Asonga and owns the hip hop record label TNO (for Teodorin Nguema Obiang) Records.

The Constantia mansion, which he bought with funds from Equatorial Guinea's Riggs Bank account in New York, is near to Sir Mark Thatcher's former home in Dawn Avenue.

It was over a year ago that Thatcher pleaded guilty to charges linked to an alleged coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea and received a four-year suspended sentence.

According to Ehlers's attorney Wynand Viljoen, Ehlers was forced to go to court after his numerous efforts to be paid for construction and engineering work he completed for the Equatorial Guinea government on the tiny island of Annabon were met with "many promises but no delivery".

An increasingly desperate Ehlers even spoke to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema when he opened the Pretoria embassy of Equatorial Guinea in 2004, but to no apparent avail.

Although Ehlers initially received "erratic" payment for his work on Annabon, these sums dried up towards the end of 2002.

Then, following a dispute with local authorities and after the arrest of a number of his workers, Ehlers was forced to flee Equatorial Guinea - leaving an estimated $1,3m in construction equipment behind and allegedly still owed $2,3-million for the work he had completed.

Should Equatorial Guinea fail to convince the Cape High Court in August that Ehlers's claim is not legitimate, he may be able to recoup some of his money by selling the Obiang properties at auction.

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