Washington Babylon — April 12, 2010, 11:41 am

Teodoro Nguema Obiang: Part Imelda Marcos, part Cruella de Ville

As recently reported here, the U.S. government has been investigating Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for money laundering and corruption. Obiang, who earns about $5,000 per month as Minister of Forestry (AKA, the Minister of Chopping Down Trees), was found to have laundered at least $75 million into the United States the past few years. That comes to nearly twice the amount allocated by Equatorial Guinea for its yearly national education budget.

With that money, Teodorin bought a private jet and a $35 million estate in Malibu, which boasts a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a four-hole golf course. Government documents also show that he owned millions of dollars worth of sports cars and at least two luxury boats. “[I]t is suspected that a large portion of Teodoro Nguema OBIANG’s assets have originated from extortion, theft of public funds, or other corrupt conduct,” said a Justice Department document.

In addition to being a crook, Obiang also turns out to be a terrible employer. I recently obtained papers from a court judgment against Obiang, who was ordered to pay his former housekeeper in Malibu, Lily Panayotti, roughly $62,000 in unpaid wages, penalties, and lawyer’s fees. Panayotti’s complaint says her work included cleaning his 14,000 square foot compound, which had four “houses” on the property. This included “cleaning and polishing the Property’s enormous collection of silver and crystal” and shuttling Obiang’s vast amount of luggage (he “traveled with hundreds of pairs of shoes”) to and from the airport.

Panayotti’s deposition states:

I had to be in attendance at all times while Mr. Obiang was present. We could not leave the property to eat lunch, nor could we leave the property until he woke up each day. Sometimes he would not wake up until 7, 8, 0r 9 o’clock in the evening. When this happened, even though it was long after I had already been on the Property for approximately 12 hours, i had then to clean his room, closet, bathroom and straighten all of his clothes and anything else that I was ordered to do. This routinely required me to work at the Property until 11:00 or 12:00….

I felt threatened at work because of the way that the Defendants treated employees. The Defendants did not allow me to eat the same food that other guests and even some workers got to eat. While at work, I was fed beans, corn, and a mixture of potatoes with sausage..I was not permitted to eat other food…

As with food “restrictions,” I could only use one of the approximately sixteen bathrooms on the Property. This was very stressful, sometimes painful, and required me to constantly run back and forth across the Property to the location of “my” bathroom. I felt it was nearly impossible to take care of the Defendants’ strict needs and demands and take care of unavoidable personal necessities….

Mr. Obiang had very strict preferences about how he was treated when he arrived, while he was at the Property and how he was treated when he was leaving. When Mr. Obiang would arrive at the Property, all of the workers, including myself, were required to stand at attention in a line waiting for him. Likewise, we had to greet him and line up when he left.. And we had to constantly wait for him when he was asleep and be ready at a moment’s notice when he awoke.

The U.S. government continues to allow Obiang into the country, even though he should clearly be barred under a proclamation issued by George W. Bush which bars entry to corrupt foreign officials. If the government can’t muster the political will to do that — U.S. oil companies have billions invested in Equatorial Guinea — it should at least block him as a means of keeping him from ripping off American workers.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells
Article
Interesting Facts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My husband is forty-six. I am forty-five. He does not think that, in my forties, after cancer, chemotherapy, and chemically induced menopause, I can get pregnant again, but sisters, I know my womb. It’s proven.”
Photograph by McNair Evans
Post
Kid Chocolate’s Place·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Cuban eyes often look close to tears.”
Illustration by the author
Article
Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If you short-circuit the bottom, you threaten the entire cycle,” Joye told me. “Without a healthy ocean, we’ll all be dead.”
Illustration by John Ritter

Length in days of the sentence Russian blogger Alexei Navalny served for leading an opposition rally last year:

15

Israeli researchers developed software that evaluates the depression of bloggers.

A teenager in Singapore was convicted of obscenity for posts critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding father, that included an image of Lee having sex with Margaret Thatcher.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today