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Press Release

$26.6 Million In Allegedly Illicit Proceeds to Be Used To Fight COVID-19 and Address Medical Needs in Equatorial Guinea

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Funds Derived from Resolution of Civil Forfeiture Action

The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into agreements to distribute $19.25 million to the United Nations for the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and $6.35 million to Medical Care Development International (MCDI) for the purchase and distribution of medicines and medical supplies throughout Equatorial Guinea as part of the implementation of a civil forfeiture settlement resolving the disposition of certain assets previously allegedly purchased by the current First Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (Obiang Mangue) with the proceeds of corruption. 

In the civil forfeiture matter United States v. One Michael Jackson Signed Thriller Jacket, No. 2:11-CV-03582 in the Central District of California, and related cases, the United States alleged that Obiang Mangue, who in 2011 was Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and received an official government salary of less than $100,000, used his position and influence to amass more than $300 million worth of assets through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both U.S. and Equatoguinean law.

Pursuant to the terms of a 2014 settlement agreement, Obiang Mangue was required to sell a Malibu, California, mansion that he purchased for $30 million, a Ferrari automobile and various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia, and to contribute $1 million representing the value of other property. As provided in the agreement, $10.3 million of these settlement funds were to be forfeited to the United States and the remaining settlement funds would be distributed to a charity or other organization for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea. The Department of Justice has committed to returning the forfeited funds for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.

“Wherever possible, Kleptocrats will not be allowed to retain the benefits of corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department’s tenacity in ensuring that these funds be returned for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea demonstrates our commitment to making sure a nation’s resources are used to benefit the people of that nation and are not siphoned off inappropriately.”

As set forth in a donor agreement with the United Nations, the United Nations will use $19.25 million in settlement funds to purchase, store, distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to at least 600,000 people in Equatorial Guinea. In addition, MCDI, a charitable organization in Silver Spring, Maryland, with an established track record of administering programs in Equatorial Guinea, will receive $6.35 million to manage the purchase, storage, distribution and delivery of additional medicines and medical supplies throughout Equatorial Guinea.

Chief Gene Patton of Program Operations, and Deputy Chief Adam J. Schwartz of the International Unit of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section handled the resolution of this matter.

Updated September 20, 2021

Press Release Number: 21-899