Vice president of Equatorial Guinea has superyacht seized


A superyacht owned by Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, has been seized by South African authorities.

The seizure of 66m (216ft) Blue Shadow comes after a court order was signed after Daniel Janse van Rensburg, a South African businessman and author, won a lawsuit against Obiang for unlawful arrest and torture.

This is the latest in a series of rulings issued against Obiang, son of the world’s longest-serving ruler Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, by courts around the world.

The South African businessman said he was unlawfully detained in Equatorial Guinea for 491 days after a business deal went wrong. Van Rensburg has demanded R40m ($2.2m) in compensation.

Errol Eldson, the lawyer representing van Rensburg, told French news agency, AFP, that authorities have also seized two houses belonging to the politician in Cape Town.

According to the court order, van Rensburg had set up an airline in Equatorial Guinea with a local politician who withdrew from the venture and demanded a refund.

The dispute led to the Equatoguinean politician phoning the vice president and resulted in van Rensburg’s incarceration in the nation’s notorious Black Beach prison. He published a book in 2022 on how the business trip in 2013 “turned into a journey to the depths of hell”.

This is not the first time Obiang’s assets have been seized. In 2014, US authorities seized a $30m mansion in Malibu, California and other assets, alleging they had been bought with “the proceeds of corruption”.

Swiss prosecutors also seized 11 cars belonging to him two years later which were sold at an auction for around $27m.

The UK has also imposed anti-corruption sanctions on the vice president. It said the sanctions targeted individuals who had “lined their own pockets at the expense of their citizens”.

No one from the government of Equatorial Guinea was available to answer our questions.