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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
E Guinea warning after bank probe
By Stephane Mayoux
BBC Africa analyst

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
President Obiang has ruled his country since 1979
Equatorial Guinea's ministry of information has cautioned local companies offering subscriptions to foreign satellite channels.

It urged them to abstain from broadcasting programmes that could jeopardise national security.

The move comes after the screening of a programme by Spanish television.

It covered an investigation by the US Senate into money the Equatorial Guinean government has allegedly placed in the US-based Riggs bank.

Multiple personal accounts

Local observers say that Friday's report by the US Senate has sparked amazement in the streets of the capital Malabo: offices, bars and shops are full of talk about the millions of dollars uncovered by the US Senate from accounts held at Riggs bank by Equatorial Guinea's government and ruling family.


According to the Senate investigation, from 1995 to 2004, Riggs bank administered more than 60 accounts for the government of Equatorial Guinea, government officials or their family members.

The Senate found, for example, that Riggs opened multiple personal accounts for President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, his wife and other relatives.

The bank, the Senate found, also helped establish offshore corporations for the head of state and his sons.

By 2003, the Equatorial Guinean accounts had aggregate deposits ranging from $400m to $700m at a time.

Denial

According to the report, between 2000 and 2002, the bank facilitated nearly $13m dollars in cash deposits into Riggs accounts controlled by the Equatorial Guinean president and his wife.

On two occasions, the report says, Riggs accepted $3m in cash for an account opened in the name of President Obiang Nguema's offshore company, Otong, S.A.

US SENATE REPORT
More than 60 E Guinea accounts, holding up to $700m
Cash deposits worth $13m was deposited into accounts belonging to President Obiang and his wife from 2000 - 2002
On six occasions, more than $1m was deposited in cash on a single occasion
Two $3m cash deposits were made
President Obiang, his son Mines Minister Gabriel Obiang Lima and his nephew Secretary of State for Treasury and Budget Melchor Esono Edjo were the three signatories on the main Equatorial Guinea oil account
Two signatures, including the president's were needed for withdrawals
Wire transfer withdrawals of more than $35m were made from this account to two unknown companies
At least half of the 60 accounts functioned as private accounts for senior officials or their families
Equatorial Guinea's minister of information says the Riggs bank accounts were held by the country's treasury
A presidential adviser said the Senate report was a US internal affair that had nothing to do with Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea's Information Minister Alfonso Nsue Mokuy has categorically denied that accounts held at Riggs bank belonged to the presidential family.

Mr Nsue Mokuy said that those accounts were, instead, held by the country's treasury.

The minister went on to accuse the international media, and in particular Spanish television, of trying to destabilise the country's democratic process.

On Monday, the ministry of information urged suppliers of foreign satellite television channels to more careful about the types of programmes they expose Guineans to and abstain from broadcasting programmes that could spark violence among the population.

Spanish television, widely watched in the former Spanish colony, had covered the Senate report extensively last Friday.

Talking to the BBC from Malabo, presidential adviser Miguel Oyono said that the Senate report was an American internal affair that had nothing to do with Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Oyono did not wish to give further comments.

The US Senate's investigation was carried out to try and asses whether American financial institutions were implementing anti-money laundering regulations put in place in the US since the attacks in Washington and New York on 11 September 2001.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Equatorial Guinea
16 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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