The Associated Press
Published Sunday, September 29, 2019 8:24 am
Last updated Sunday, September 29, 2019 10:29
GENEVA – Car lovers around the world spent more than $ 27 million at an auction on Sunday for dozens of luxury cars seized from the president of Equatorial Guinea's son in a Swiss money laundering investigation.
The 25 lots sold by auction house Bonhams included a 2014 cream and white Lamborghini Veneno roadster that cost the buyer 8.28 million Swiss francs ($ 8.4 million), comprising a 15% auction house premium, but with potential taxes yet to be added.
The supercar – one of nine versions produced – had traveled only 325 kilometers (201 miles) and has an official top speed of 359 kilometers per hour (223 mph), Bonhams said.
The total value of the sale exceeded the 18.5 million francs (US $ 18.7 million) that the authorities expected to seek for a charity to benefit the oil-rich people of Equatorial Guinea.
The auction comes after the Geneva prosecutor's office announced in February that it has closed a case against Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the country's four-decade president, Teodoro Obiang, and two others after an investigation into money laundering and mismanagement of public goods. .
Swiss authorities seized the cars and ordered the hijacking of a yacht in 2016.
The yacht was launched in a deal announced in February, under which Equatorial Guinea agreed to pay the Swiss authorities 1.3 million Swiss francs "primarily to cover procedural costs," the prosecutor's office said.
Other cars sold at the Domaine de Bonmmont golf club on the outskirts of Geneva included a 2003 yellow Ferrari Enzo for 3.1 million francs and a 2015 Koenigsegg One: 1, which reached 4.6 million francs.
A 1998 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur armored limousine described as "perfect for someone with enemies," but requiring extensive work selling for 86,250 francs.
The son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, who is also vice president, has been arrested in legal trouble elsewhere. Last year, Brazilian officials said $ 16 million in undeclared money and luxury watches seized from a delegation he led may have been part of an effort to launder money diverted from the country's government. And a Paris court in 2017 sentenced his son for embezzling millions of dollars in public money, although the case was appealed.
In February, the Geneva prosecutor's office cited rules that allow prosecutors to close cases in which the person under investigation "repaired the damage or did everything expected to compensate for the harm done."
The investigation involved authorities in the United States, Cayman Islands, France, Monaco, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Marshall Islands.
Frank Jordans contributed to this Berlin report.