The Washington Post

Dictator Obiang collects an award once given to Clinton, Bush

Teodoro Obiang Nguema: drop us a line, would you? (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Obiang, Loop Fans may recall, created a bit of a fuss in the last couple of years trying to get a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) award — which he endowed for five years with a $3 million gift — until the human rights crowd went ballistic.

Seems Obiang, in power since 1979 and once winner of 95 percent of the vote, keeps getting slammed by State Department reports of “arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention” and judicial corruption and so on. (Well, nobody’s perfect.) So UNESCO backed down.

The award is named for Leon H. Sullivan, a minister, civil rights leader and longtime General Motors board member who authored the Sullivan Principles for businesses operating in South Africa during apartheid. Past winners include Presidents Clinton and Bush II, secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

Maybe Obiang didn’t call because he was worried about his 44-year-old son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue? Seems the Justice Department recently went to court to seize $70 million of his assets. The department recounted purchases he made in the last decade or so, such as: a $10 million fleet of cars that include eight Ferraris, seven Rolls-Royces, two Lamborghinis, a Porsche, an Aston Martin and a Maserati.

Then there was the $38 million Gulfstream and the Malibu villa overlooking the Pacific for $30 million, which he decorated last year with Michael Jackson memorabilia bought at auctions.

The Justice Department said all that was “inconsistent with his salary” of $81,000 a year and came from plundering the tiny country’s large natural gas and oil reserves.

But wait a minute. If you live really, really frugally . . .

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


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