Even as the United States Department of Justice seeks to prove that Teodoro Nguema Obiang's Malibu mansion, assorted sports cars, Learjet, and Michael Jackson memorabilia are the products of corruption and therefore subject to seizure, the French government is moving in the same direction. As part of a corruption probe popularly known in France as "BMA" (for biens mal acquis, or ill-gotten goods), French authorities raided TNO's Paris home at 42 Avenue Foch earlier this week.
The Equatoguinean government responded Thursday with this statement: "The government of Equatorial Guinea expresses its total indignation and protests against the illegitimate persecution by French authorities on an apartment of the state . . . in Paris, in flagrant violation of international conventions." Of course, "the government of Equatorial Guinea" is TNO's father, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who runs the country as a family-owned criminal enterprise. The "international conventions" to which the statement refers are those related to diplomatic immunity, and especially the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. The Obiang family argues that TNO's Paris residence is protected by diplomatic immunity because TNO was appointed by his father last October to be Equatorial Guinea's deputy permanent representative to UNESCO, which is headquartered in Paris. The French government is apparently unpersuaded by the argument.