A federal judge has dismissed a suit brought by the Justice Department to seize a Gulfstream jet owned by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, second vice president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the son of the country’s president.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled Friday that the government had
failed to meet its burden of proof by linking the jet to specific illegal acts.
The case was a civil forfeiture suit brought under a law allowing the
government to seize assets of foreign nationals that are the fruit of criminal
activity or corruption.
In June 2012, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed a similar complaint
brought by the Justice Department against Mr. Nguema seeking to seize property
in Los Angeles. In that decision, judge also ruled that the Department of
Justice had failed to present information to show that Mr. Nguema’s funds were
obtained through illegal activity or that he had participated in any illegal
He described the charges in the complaint as “vague” and called the complaint
“devoid of any facts that might support allegations that Nguema directly
participated in extortion, misappropriation, theft or embezzlement.”
“I am pleased, l of course, by this ruling,” said Mr. Nguema. “I have great
respect for the United States and its justice system. The law must work for
everyone, and two separate federal judges have now dismissed cases brought
against me. From the beginning, we sought to cooperate with the Department of
Justice as it conducted its investigation, but my attorneys’ efforts were
rejected. I regret that we have had to go this far, but I am prepared to
continue to fight to defend myself of these unfounded charges.”