African Dictator’s Son Orders Luxury Superyacht

Michelle Faul, Yahoo! News, Feb. 27, 2011

The son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator of 30 years commissioned plans to build a superyacht costing $380 million, nearly three times what the country spends on health and education each year, a corruption watchdog said Monday.

The statement from Global Witness said that German company Kusch Yachts has been asked to build the yacht, housing a cinema, restaurant, bar and swimming pool, though construction has not yet started.

Global Witness has been urging Washington to institute sanctions against Teodorin Obiang, whose extravagant lifestyle currently includes a $35 million-dollar mansion in Malibu, California, a $33 million jet and a fleet of luxury cars, while earning a salary of $6,799 a month as agriculture minister.

The government press office in Equatorial Guinea confirmed that the president’s son had ordered the yacht design, but said he “then dismissed the idea of buying it.”

It said that if the order had gone ahead, he would have bought it with income from private business activities and not “with funds derived from sources of illegal financing or corruption.”

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The tiny West African nation may be oil rich, but U.N. statistics show that 20 percent of children in Equatorial Guinea die before reaching the age of 5, and the average citizen is unlikely to live beyond 50. The State Department report on human rights also has condemned killings by security forces and the torture of prisoners.

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