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US seeks to force Equatorial Guinea to take Covid vaccine deal as Biden steps up anti-kleptocracy fight

By Julian Pecquet
Posted on Monday, 23 August 2021 07:37

A Ferrari Enzo is pictured during an auction preview of Bonhams at the Bonmont Golf & Country Club in Cheserex near Geneva
A Ferrari Enzo (2003), part of a collection of luxury cars owned by Teodoro Obiang, the son of the Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and confiscated by the Geneva prosecutor's office after a deal ending a money-laundering inquiry, is pictured during an auction preview of Bonhams at the Bonmont Golf & Country Club in Cheserex near Geneva, Switzerland September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse REFILE - CORRECTING INFORMATION - RC1C62022660

Most countries in Africa are clamouring for more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea (EG) had to be dragged before a federal judge to stop blockage of a $19.25m payout that the US wants to hand over for COVAX anti-Covid-19 vaccine operations in the country.

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.