To Catch Africa’s Biggest Thieves Hiding in America! By Alemayehu G. Mariam

November 7th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

A Plague of Thieves Visited on Africa

For the past four decades, a plague of cold-blooded thieves has descended upon Africa like a swarm of blood sucking ticks. These thieves masquerading as leaders have been trafficking in Africa’s natural resources and trading in the wealth created by the blood, tears and sweat of African peoples. Now U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, America’s top law enforcement officer, says to Africa’s biggest thieves: “You can run with Africa’s stolen treasures but you can’t hide them in America!”

In July 2010, in a breathtaking act of legal diplomacy, U.S. Attorney General Holder travelled to meet Africa’s greatest kleptocrats in Uganda and delivered a staggering message: “The U.S. Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative aimed at combating large-scale foreign official corruption and recovering public funds for their intended – and proper – use: for the people of our nations. We’re assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources.” Holder’s move was so surreal and stunning that I described it as the equivalent of filing a sealed indictment against “La Commissione” – the Godfathers of the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese crime families in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

The Rape of Equatorial Guinea by the Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo Family

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the 43-year old son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, is now facing asset seizures by the U.S. and other European governments. The U.S. has filed legal action to take away Mangue’s property valued at tens of millions of dollars because they were allegedly acquired with money stolen from the people of Equatorial Guinea. Mangue is the heir apparent and Minister of Forestry and Agriculture of that tiny west African nation with a population of 680,000, seventy percent of which lives below the poverty line. Mangue reportedly earns a monthly salary of USD$6,799.

U.S. law allows the government to seize cash, personal or real property of a person or entity if the government can trace the property to “specified unlawful activity”. Such activity includes foreign offenses involving “extortion”, “money laundering” or the “misappropriation, theft or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official” of a foreign government. (18 U.S. C. sections 981 (a) (1) (c); 1956; 1957.) Mangue is not facing any criminal charges at this time and the proceedings are against the items of property alone in the form of “United States v. One White Crystal-Covered Bad Tour Glove…” Mangue becomes a third party claimant if he decides to defend.

In a 46-page civil forfeiture action filed in mid-October by U.S. Justice Department in California and a separate but similar action filed in the District of Columbia in late October, the U.S. Justice Department details its claims against Mangue. Among the items of property the Justice Department wants to seize include Michael Jackson’s white crystal-covered gloves valued at $275,000 and a pair of crystal-covered socks valued at $80,000, a $30 million Gulfstream jet, and a variety of super-cars including two Bugatti Veyrons worth $2million, eight Ferarraris, seven Rolls Royces, Five Bentleys, four Mercedes one Aston Martin and one Masarati. The government also seeks to seize a 12-acre estate (pictured above) overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, CA valued at $38.5 million.

Teodoro Obiang and Africa’s Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and his forty thieves have nothing on the Teodoro Obiangs and Africa’s Forty Thieves. Neither do the European colonizers who had plundered and picked Africa’s bones clean. At least they left behind a few bones behind for the benefit of the archaeologists. Africa’s thieving dictators over the past four decades have stripped Africa so completely that they are now gang-mugging Africa’s ghost. As Africans die from famine, starvation, poverty, disease, civil war and conflict and suffer from illiteracy and economic woes, Teodoro Obiang and Africa’s Forty Thieves are spreading their empires of corruption to the four corners of the earth.

Let the facts speak for themselves:

Sudan. Dictator Omar al-Bashir, according to a WikiLeaks cablegram, has amassed fortune that boggles the mind: “International Criminal Court [ICC] Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told [U.S.] Ambassadors Rice and Wolff on March 20 [2009] that [Ocampo] would put the figure of Sudanese President Bashir’s stash of money at possibly $9 billion.”

Zimbabwe. In 2010, dictator Robert Mugabe announced his plan to sell “about $1.7 billion of diamonds in storage” (probably rejects of his diamond-crazed wife Grace). According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials (including Grace Mugabe) have been extracting tremendous diamond profits.” Mugabe is so greedy that he stole outright “£4.5 million from [aid] funds meant to help millions of seriously ill people.”

Kenya. The 2004 Kroll Report revealed that former president Daniel Arap Moi stole billions of dollars using a “web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen” and secreted the loot in 30 countries. Moi’s “relatives and associates of Mr. Moi siphoned off more than £1bn of government money.” Moi’s sons “Philip and Gideon – were reported to be worth £384m and £550m respectively.” Current president Mwai Kibaki stonewalled further action on the report, including prosecution of Moi.

Niger. In 2010, Niger’s state auditor reported that “at least 64 billion CFA francs [USD$128-million] were stolen from Niger’s state coffers under the government of former president Mamadou Tandja.”

Nigeria. Ex-President Sani Abacha, who stole some $2bn in the five years he ruled the country was determined to be a member of a criminal organization by a Swiss court.

Libya. Moamar Gadhafi is believed to have stashed $200bn dollars all over the world. Shortly after the Libyan uprising last February, the British Government announced that it expected to seize “around £20 billion in liquid assets of the Libyan regime, mostly in London.” The Swiss Government similarly issued an order for the immediate freeze of assets belonging to Gaddafi and his entourage in the amount of 613 million Swiss francs (USD$658 million), with an additional 205 million francs (USD$220 million) in paper or fiduciary operations. In 2008, Gadhafi’s Swiss holdings amounted to 5.7 billion in cash and 812 million francs in paper and fiduciary operations. In 2006, the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund had investments of $70 billion. The U.S. has frozen $37 billion in Libyan assets.

Ethiopia. A few months ago, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) commissioned report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) on “illicit financial flows” (money stolen by government officials and their cronies and stashed away in foreign banks) from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) revealed the theft of US$8.4 billion from Ethiopia, the second poorest country on the planet. The anti-corruption agency of the regime in Ethiopia reported in 2008 that “USD$16 million dollars” worth of gold bars simply walked out

  1. tewbel
    | #1

    Thank you Professor Alemayehu,
    Your information is always precious.
    The day of jugment for crooks is coming soon.

  2. Atakilti
    | #2

    Finally this man has written an article which I can defer to him. Corruption is mankind’s chronic problem. It has been an outright outrage when it comes to Africa. Those former leaders of Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and some other Asian and Latin American countries have looted their national treasuries. What made them different from the likes of African Mobutu’s is those Asian and Latin American countries at least had developed their nations. The Taiwan of these days that designs and manufactures most consumer electronic products we use every day was developed from the ground up by the government of Chiang kai-shek. His entourage and their descendants are some of today’s world richest. When he died in 1975Taiwan was well developed and filthy rich. To give you an example how his family and entourage enriched themselves: When his wife moved to live in New York, it was told that her belonging alone took more than 25 of 20-foot shipping containers to travel with her. And, you all also like to hear this: She has a full time employee who gives her a soothing massage every night while she sleeps until she died. She died a few years ago in New York at age of 105. But we don’t have former Asian leaders/looters in Africa. What we have been having were looters with there is no tomorrow. Our country has had corrupt officials since its inception. I have told you all before and you know me by now that I support the current government based on what it is doing and trying to do to take the country out of an agrarian setting. But I believe that it has to do more to stem and bring corruption under control. And I see very encouraging signs that it is trying to do just that. Various performance reviews and assessments it is conducting at all levels of the government have exposed many corrupt and inept officials. Several of them have been thrown in jail and some of them have fled to overseas countries blaming political persecutions. I think the government is on the right tracks and needs to do more in fighting corruption.

  3. kazama
    | #3

    Ferdnand Markos,the former dictator of the Phillipines was married to a partially literate women,Emelda Markos,an extravagant spender and an impulsive shopper;she was a complete waste and a cost only on the people of the Phillipines.

    As there is a problem in any family,there is a problem in Zinawi’s family.As per the indication of a record,what made Emelda Markos different from the wives of the former dictators and makes her unique from the wives of the present dictators,her skills in the art of cooking and dinning.She never used either a typewritter or a computer,she used her fine fingers and right-brain to just jot down words,phrases,sentences,and paragraphs on the invitation cards to the guests she invited for dinners.She is still rememberd for her fine hand-writings.Zinawi and Azeb,although they have been bringing income to the family for the last 20 years,they never have had a mechanism to control expenses in their household.

    What do Azeb Mesfin and Meles Zinawi do for a living? Well,they both are executives and shareholders in EFFORT.In the regime they built and ran,there is this house called Parliament;in it,there are the living maniquines that Zinawi molded,shaped,and built,and all are programmed to respond to his command,but not to think to think as mankind.And,there is this woman called Azeb Golla who was endorsed by her husband,Zinawi.She has never been into leadership,which is the skill they both cronically lack.Today,Ethiopia is on impasse.It happened to Somalia and is happening to Ethiopia.Corruption has been one of the pillars of Zinawi’s regime as guns and bullets are.Unemployment is grinding,corruption is rampant,ethnic sugrigation is in place,murder and imprisonment is devastating the citizens because anyone who opposes the regime is labeled as a terrorist.Opposison leaders,Journalists,Artists,Teachers,Poets,Priests,and Parents are jailed and tortured in central prision because they have been deeply concerned with oppression and suppression that have been imposed by Zinawi and his regime on the nations since 1991 and have been chalanging and fighting the system to bring democracy.Freedom is not a previlage,it is a right for all humankinds.Clearly,murder and corruption have gone to Zinawi’s head;of course,this man,Zinawi can not think clearly;therefore,can not move the country in the right direction.This is why Ethiopians have come together all the way from 1991 onwards to bring positive change to Ethiopia and build a democratic system for the people,by the people,and for all of us.

  4. bilbil
    | #4

    Mr.Atakilti,you said,”Our country has had corrupt officials since its inception.” So,that is the premise;right? then the conclusion is,since Zinawi is a corrupt official,then, he must be a corrupt PM.Thank you for you are being right and he is being wrong.

    Mr.Atakilti,did you know or did you not,only principle centred and people-elected leaders build and run organizations or governments and do performance appraisal to completely shield their organizations and governments from corruption? Seen is believing;if you don’t see it,you don’t know it is existed.Ethiopia is losing 2 billion US dollar every year due to corrupt people like Ato.Zinawi and his appointed officials.You see,Zinawi built his corrupted regime on foundations,such as corruption and elicite activities that Ato.Zinawi can not demolish it,if he does,the system will collapse.Problems,such corruption and corrupt individuals must be dealt from the root all the way upto the head;if the head if cut off,the roots will die off.

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