(AFP) – Feb 28, 2011
LONDON — The son of Equatorial Guinea ruler Teodoro Obiang Nguema has commissioned plans to build one of the world's most expensive yachts, a rights group claimed on Monday.
President Obiang's son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorin, has commissioned plans for a yacht costing 288 million euros ($400 million), said Global Witness, which works to break the links between resource exploitation and bad governance.
Teodorin, the agriculture and forestry minister of the small oil-rich state on the west coast of Africa, has placed an order with a German shipyard, the non-governmental organisation said.
The price tag would make it the second most expensive yacht in the world after Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich's mega-yacht Eclipse.
Global Witness said the yacht would be 118.5 metres (390 feet) long, housing a cinema, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and a security system complete with floor motion sensors and fingerprint door openers.
The vessel's basic design was completed in 2009 with a planned delivery date of late 2012, but construction has not yet started, the NGO said.
"Evidence points to corruption by Teodorin on a scale that would not be possible or attractive if countries like Germany and the United States were not safe havens, in terms of free passage for him and for his questionable private wealth," said Global Witness campaigns director Gavin Hayman.
"That a president's son from such a poor country has ordered this yacht is outrageous extravagance on his part."
Equatorial Guinea, where Obiang Nguema seized power in 1979, was until recently one of the poorest countries in Africa but is now a major oil producers, drawing 90 percent of its revenue from hydrocarbons.
In a US cable from Washington's embassy in the capital Malabo, published by the WikiLeaks website, Teodorin is described as "singled out for criticism both here and abroad".
He "lives the life of an international playboy and is widely accused of corruption. His purchase of a $34 million mansion in Malibu, California once made Forbes magazine and attracted a great deal of attention".
He is said to have told US diplomats "I've been very lucky in business" and "I like to live well".
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