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U.S. Federal Judge Dismisses Case Brought Against Equatorial Guinea Vice President

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A federal judge has dismissed a suit brought by the Justice Department to seize a Gulfstream jet owned by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, second vice president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the son of the country’s president.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled Friday that the government had failed to meet its burden of proof by linking the jet to specific illegal acts. The case was a civil forfeiture suit brought under a law allowing the government to seize assets of foreign nationals that are the fruit of criminal activity or corruption.

In June 2012, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed a similar complaint brought by the Justice Department against Mr. Nguema seeking to seize property in Los Angeles. In that decision, judge also ruled that the Department of Justice had failed to present information to show that Mr. Nguema’s funds were obtained through illegal activity or that he had participated in any illegal activity.

He described the charges in the complaint as “vague” and called the complaint “devoid of any facts that might support allegations that Nguema directly participated in extortion, misappropriation, theft or embezzlement.”

“I am pleased, l of course, by this ruling,” said Mr. Nguema. “I have great respect for the United States and its justice system. The law must work for everyone, and two separate federal judges have now dismissed cases brought against me. From the beginning, we sought to cooperate with the Department of Justice as it conducted its investigation, but my attorneys’ efforts were rejected. I regret that we have had to go this far, but I am prepared to continue to fight to defend myself of these unfounded charges.”