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