Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang had two houses and a superyacht seized this week by South African officials. Vice President Obiang lost a lawsuit filed by South African businessman Daniel Janse van Rensburg, who claimed he was unlawfully arrested and tortured in Equatorial Guinea for nearly 500 days. Van Rensburg demanded approximately $2.2 million in compensation.
“We attached (seized) two houses…in Cape Town in a formal application two weeks ago and the superyacht last Tuesday,” said Errol Eldson, Van Rensburg’s lawyer.
Business Deal Gone Wrong
Eldson said that his client had a business relationship with Gabriel Angabi, an Equatorial Guinea politician with ties to the first family. The business partnership entailed setting up an airline for close to two years. With almost everything in place and the airline about to begin operating, Angabi invited Van Rensburg to Equatorial Guinea and informed him that the deal could not proceed and demanded reimbursement of the financial contribution he had made. Van Rensburg could not immediately pay him back as all the money had already been placed into the business.
“When he got there, Angabi said ‘we don’t want to do this anymore, we want our money back’,” said Eldson. “He picked up the phone to Vice President Obiang and within 10 minutes the rapid force intervention was there…they picked Daniel up and threw him into Black Beach prison.”
Van Rensburg has fought a long battle in South African court and has applied for permission to auction the seized assets. The furniture in the two houses has already been auctioned.
A History of Legal Action
This will not be the first time Vice President Obiang has been caught in the legal crosshairs of a foreign country. In 2014, he had a $30 million residential property seized in Malibu. Eleven luxury vehicles including an exclusive $8 million Lamborghini were seized from him and auctioned in Switzerland. In France, he was convicted for using public money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He is Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s son and is seen as the long-time leader’s successor. Vice President Obiang has been accused of misusing his access to Equatorial Guinea’s resources, including the nation’s wealth and rich oil supply.