France seizes Paris house of Equatorial Guinea leader's son

PARIS Fri Aug 3, 2012 3:05pm EDT

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo attends the opening ceremony of the African Nations Cup soccer tournament in Estadio de Bata ''Bata Stadium'' in Bata January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo attends the opening ceremony of the African Nations Cup soccer tournament in Estadio de Bata ''Bata Stadium'' in Bata January 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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PARIS (Reuters) - French investigators have seized a Paris townhouse belonging to the son of Equatorial Guinea's president as part of a money-laundering probe, a judicial source said on Friday.

Millions of euros worth of art, antiques and other valuables were seized in February from the same six-floor building which is owned by Teodoro Obiang, agriculture minister and son of the small oil-rich African state's president.

Two French judges issued arrest warrants last month for Obiang on money laundering charges, saying they suspected he had siphoned off state funds to buy property in France.

Obiang denies any wrongdoing.

In late 2011, luxury cars, including Bugattis and Ferraris, were also confiscated from the same property, which is situated in one of the French capital's smartest neighborhoods.

The French warrant means Obiang is barred from entering France and may also face travel restrictions in his own country.

He faces similar money-laundering charges in the United States, where he owns property estimated to be worth several tens of millions of dollars.

Obiang, whose full name is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, is frequently seen enjoying an extravagant lifestyle abroad, complete with multi-million dollar mansions, jets and yachts.

His father, President Teodoro Obiang, has ruled the former Spanish colony for more than three decades and has been widely condemned by rights groups as one of the world's most corrupt leaders.

(Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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