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Friday, February 26, 2021

Malabo orders Total to pay €73m over fraud in oil sale

Equatorial Guinea said Monday it has demanded 73 million euros from French oil giant Total over “fraud” in fuel sales made between 2010 and 2012.

“Following an investigation, we found a suspicious and fraudulent situation,” said Finance Minister Miguel Egonga Obiang as he announced the claim for 48 billion CFA francs.

No further details were immediately available on the alleged fraud, though Equatorial Guinea has also referred the case to its justice system.

 The government of the oil-rich, sub-Saharan nation has demanded that Total come up with a proposal for a settlement, state TV reported.

Total’s management in Equatorial Guinea did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

The country, Africa’s only Spanish-speaking nation, has become the continent’s number three oil producer but experts say the vast majority of the population has not benefitted from the energy revenue boom.

As the country demands the settlement from Total, French prosecutors are seeking a three-year jail term and a 30 million euro ($34 million) fine for Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodorin Obiang, on trial in absentia for embezzlement.

The 48-year-old son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is charged with using money plundered from his country’s state coffers to fund a jet-set lifestyle in France, where he bought a six-storey mansion in an ultra-posh part of Paris.

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