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Obiang’s Lawyers Fight for French Assets

Lawyers for Equatorial Guinea told United Nations judges Monday that French authorities illegally seized a mansion in Paris that the African nation insists operated as its embassy. The building was seized as part of a money laundering investigation into the son of the central African nation’s president. The International Court of Justice case is focused on the diplomatic status of a multimillion dollar mansion on one of the French capital’s most prestigious streets, Avenue Foch. French authorities seized it in 2012 as they investigated Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue for misuse of public funds and money laundering. Equatorial Guinea argues that, under an international treaty governing diplomatic relations, France had no right to seize the building as it had been operating as the country’s embassy since 2011. Equatorial Guinea filed a case with the world court in 2016 arguing that Obiang, who is his country’s vice president, had immunity from prosecution. However the United Nation’s highest court said in 2018 that it did not have jurisdiction over that issue and narrowed the case down to the status of the mansion.