Swiss refuse to release Obiang luxury cars

The court did not believe the argument that Obiang's cars were in Switzerland for repair Keystone

A Swiss court has rejected demands from Equatorial Guinea to release 24 impounded luxury cars and a yacht belonging to Teodorin Obiang, son of the country’s president. Obiang is standing trial in France, in absentia, on charges of embezzlement.

This content was published on July 25, 2017 - 13:34

Genevan authorities seized 11 sports cars last October, followed by another 13 in the subsequent months, in response to a French request for legal assistance. 

The cars include a Bugatti Veyron, four Ferraris including an Enzo and 599GTB, a Porsche 918 Spyder, a Lamborghini Veneno, a Maybach, a Koenigesegg, an Aston Martin and a McLaren P1.

Equatorial Guinea filed a legal challenge to the seizure, arguing that the cars do not belong to Obiang but to a state company. The African country’s government also accused Switzerland of colluding with France in attempting to smear Obiang ahead of an International Court of Justice hearing to examine his diplomatic immunity credentials. 

Obiang was made vice-president of the country by his father Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has been in power for 38 years.

But the Swiss Federal Court on Tuesday rejected the argument that the vehicles were state-owned and only in Geneva for repairs. The court also turned down a demand to release an impounded yacht, which is moored in the Netherlands.

In France, Obiang is accused of plundering $115 million (CHF109 million) from state coffers to fund a playboy lifestyle. The French authorities have seized a Paris mansion believed to be worth more than $100 million. 

In 2014, Obiang was forced to surrender a Malibu mansion, several cars and other assets to settle a corruption case in the United States.

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