Supercars seized from politician auctioned in Switzerland
Posted September 29, 2019 12:56 p.m. EDT
CNN — A collection of luxury supercars seized from the extravagant vice president of Equatorial Guinea as part of a corruption probe were auctioned in Switzerland on Sunday.
The sale -- organized by London-based auction house Bonhams -- saw 25 vehicles sold that once belonged to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the central African nation's longtime leader.
Swiss authorities confiscated the luxury stash of vehicles from Obiang in 2016 after an investigation into money laundering. All the cars were sold without a reserve price and none had racked up more than just a few thousand miles
Among the set was a roadster version of the Lamborghini Veneno -- one of just nine produced to celebrate the manufacturer's 50th anniversary -- sold for an eye-watering $8.3 million. It was originally estimated to be worth more than $5.1 million.
A limited edition LaFerrari was also auctioned for $2.2 million, while a 1,300-horsepower Koenigsegg One:1 -- of which just seven were ever produced -- fetched $4.6 million, double what what was expected.
Also in the collection was a McLaren P1 which sold for $1.1 million, an Aston Martin One-77 sold for $1.5 million and a Bugatti Veyron auctioned for $1.3 million.
All of the cars were "sold on behalf of the State of Geneva and the proceeds are going to charity," Bonhams said in an email to CNN.
Geneva police seized the fleet from a cargo area in the city's airport in 2016 after criminal proceedings were opened against Obiang.
As reported by Reuters, Swiss prosecutors announced in February that they had closed an inquiry into Obiang for money-laundering and misappropriation of public assets with the arrangement to sell the vehicles to fund programs in Equatorial Guinea.
According to the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can drop charges in instances like this if defendants offer compensation "and restores a situation that is in conformity with the law," Agence France-Presse reported.
Obiang's expensive tastes have been the subject of probes by authorities in several countries.
He was handed a three-year suspended jail term for embezzlement by a French court in 2017, for splurging on a Parisian mansion, a private jet and the fleet of luxury cars with funds looted from his country.
Before that, Obiang agreed to a $30 million settlement to resolve the US government's allegations that he used money plundered from his country to amass assets such as a California mansion, a jet and a sizable collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia -- including the crystal-encrusted white glove from Jackson's "Bad" world tour.
And last year, Brazilian authorities seized more than $16 million in cash and luxury watches from a delegation traveling with Obiang, according to local media reports.
His father, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who seized power in a 1979 coup, is the longest-serving head of state on the continent. He appointed his son as his deputy in 2016.
The oil-rich country, one of the wealthiest in Africa, keeps a tight lid on information. For several years, anti-corruption NGO Transparency International described Equatorial Guinea as "too opaque to rank," saying it could not get enough data on it for the global corruption index.