The bizarre dispute that played out inside a Los Angeles courtroom last month was the culmination of a decade-long legal saga that set the precedent for subsequent US anti-kleptocracy efforts.
It all began when the US justice department filed a lawsuit with the eye-popping title “United States vs. One White Crystal-Covered ‘Bad Tour’ Glove and Other Michael Jackson Memorabilia” in April 2011.
The US spent the next three years making its case that EG’s vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (aka “Teodorin”) – the first son and presumptive heir of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – was a money-laundering kleptocrat.
In October 2014, Teodorin agreed to relinquish $30m worth of US-based assets, including Michael Jackson memorabilia, a Malibu mansion and a 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO. Returning the proceeds to EG, however, has proven a bigger challenge.
Since 2011, the US has
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