Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arrest Warrant is Unjustified, Says French Attorney for Equatorial Guinea Agriculture Minister

A French attorney for Equatorial Guinea’s minister of agriculture and forestry, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, says that “there are no existing facts that suggest that [Minister Nguema] committed any offense of any kind, in France or abroad,” and that “all of his acquisitions have been entirely transparent vis-à-vis the French banking and tax supervisory authorities.”

The attorney, Emmanuel Marsigny, issued a statement yesterday in the wake of a request by two French investigative magistrates for an international arrest warrant for Minister Nguema.

Mr. Marsigny said that all of Minister Nguema’s transactions “were carried out through personal bank accounts, or through the accounts of private law companies of which he was a shareholder, and financed by perfectly legal economic activities.” He said, “… these operations were completed through the Bank of France, which has never, until this media harassment orchestrated by two associations driven by obscure motivations, found any objection to these actions.” He said the Bank of France had “full knowledge of these operations’ economic background.”

Mr. Marsigny noted that his client “never had any intention of escaping French legal proceedings” and had “agreed without protest to be domiciled at his Parisian counsel’s for the procedure, despite the fact that he was under no obligation to do so,” pending approval of the government of Equatorial Guinea, which the French Foreign Ministry had sought.

He termed it “surprising” that the same magistrates would issue an arrest warrant “knowing that they couldn’t hear him without the prior approval of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea they had personally requested.”

He said that there were no grounds for an arrest warrant.

The full text of Mr. Marsigny’s statement follows:

“Mr. Emmanuel Marsigny, counsel for Minister Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Minister of State of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, is surprised that, according to the media, the investigation magistrates wish to issue an arrest warrant for the latter, considering there are no existing facts that suggest that he committed any offense of any kind, in France or abroad. In addition, above all, all of his acquisitions have been entirely transparent vis-à-vis the French banking and tax supervisory authorities, since they were carried out through personal bank accounts, or through the accounts of private law companies of which he was a shareholder, and financed by perfectly legal economic activities. Furthermore, these operations were completed through the Bank of France, which has never, until this media harassment orchestrated by two associations driven by obscure motivations, found any objection to these actions having been in full knowledge of these operations’ economic background.

“The willingness of the investigating magistrates’ is all the more surprising, considering that, when summoned, the Minister of State fully agreed without protest to be domiciled at his Parisian counsel’s for the procedure, despite the fact that he was under no obligation to do so, having never had any intention of escaping French legal proceedings. While he may not have been able to comply with this request, it was due to the Code of Criminal Procedure and to the refusal on the part of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to authorize the hearing of its Minister and representative. The Republic of Equatorial Guinea had indeed been transmitted the request for a hearing by the investigating magistrates, according to the terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all the while a search of premises was taking place inside diplomatic premises, in violation of international conventions.

“It is therefore surprising that the same magistrates, knowing that they couldn’t hear him without the prior approval of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea they had personally requested, would consider that, notwithstanding such refusal, a warrant of arrest should be issued.

“There are thus no grounds for an arrest warrant to be issued, since the investigating magistrates, six months after a motion for the restitution of vehicles that have been under seal since September 2011, still have not made known the reasons against said restitution!”