Equatorial Guinea Case Study: Combating Kleptocracy through International Courts

Country: Equaotorial Guinea
June 20, 2019

A new working paper authored by Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice, explores how civil society can use international courts to pursue justice in cases of kleptocracy. The paper, titled “To Catch a Kleptocrat: Lessons Learned from the Biens Mal Acquis Trials in France” and published in partnership with the International Forum for Democratic Studies, highlights that “since kleptocratic elites deliberately weaken independent accountability in the countries where the theft occurs, victims of kleptocracy have little recourse for achieving justice domestically.”

In the paper, Alicante examines the groundbreaking Biens Mal Acquis (“ill-gotten gains”) case, a strategic litigation case in which French prosecutors indicted the leaders of Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea for using stolen public funds to acquire assets on French soil. On October 27, 2017, Equatoguinean Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang became the first actively serving, foreign government official to be tried and convicted in French courts on charges of diverting corruptly acquired funds into investments on French territory. The paper examines Obiang’s case and also provides several important lessons learned in pursuing strategic litigation to counter kleptocracy. Read the recommendations and the full report here.