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NNPA from the Global Information Network
Published: 20 November 2010

For buying sprees that included Riviera villas and fleets of luxury cars, three African presidents are slated for investigation by a French court to see if state funds were used for the purchases.

The allegations name President Teodoro Obiang, of Equatorial Guinea, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, of the Republic of Congo, and Gabon's late President, Omar Bongo.

Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, said the African leaders and their families had stocked up on penthouses and villas and custom-made cars including Ferraris, Maseratis, and a Rolls-Royce.

The Bongo clan reportedly has 39 properties in France, 70 French bank accounts, 11 in Omar Bongo's name, nine luxury cars in France, including Ferraris and Mercedes. Bongo, once the world's longest-ruling head of state, died last year and was succeeded by his son Ali.

The family of Sassou-Nguesso, Omar Bongo's father-in-law, had 112 French bank accounts, 18 properties and at least one car in France worth more than 170,000 euros.

The Obiang family had eight luxury cars in France, worth 4.2 million euros. Obiang's son, a government minister, owns an apartment in an exclusive area of the capital.

Transparency International said the assets were worth several times more than the African leaders officially earned.

The case could expose the secretive deal-making and blind eye to corruption of France's special "Françafrique" relationship with its former African colonies.

PHOTO: President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea

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