From: Inside Story

Can France hold corrupt African leaders to account?

The son of Equatorial Guinea’s president is on trial in France for misusing state funds.

The son of Equatorial Guinea’s president has been accused of widespread corruption and money laundering, but he is not being tried for it in his home country of Equatorial Guinea.

Instead, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue has been prosecuted in the US, is being investigated in Switzerland, and was tried in absentia in France on Monday. 

Obiang is known for his taste for luxury cars, mansions, and expensive works of art. 

French prosecutors say the items were bought using illegal money – most of it in cash. 

They say Obiang stole $115m from the government while he was agriculture minister from 2004 to 2011.

They are specifically trying him for property he bought in France, including a Parisian villa worth more than $100m. 

Obiang has always said he earned his money legally. 

The trial is a major shift in French policy, which has long ignored corrupt African leaders who buy property in France.

So what’s behind the crackdown?

Presenter: Laura Kyle


Florent Geel – Africa Director at the International Federation for Human Rights

Aly-Khan Satchu – Emerging markets economist

Antony Goldman – African affairs specialist and former Senior Africa analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit