An African dictator's son spent $US100 million ($96 million) of his impoverished country's money on luxuries including a private jet, a Malibu mansion, and a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia, according to the US Justice Department.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is alleged to have lived a playboy way of life in California where he owned a collection of 24 sports cars valued at $US10 million.
Mr Obiang, thought to be aged 43, is the eldest son and heir apparent to Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea. He serves as a minister of forestry and agriculture in his father's government and last week was appointed his country's representative for UNESCO.
Seventy per cent of the tiny west African nation's 680,000 population lives below the poverty line and tens of thousands have no access to electricity or clean water, according to the African Development Bank.
A 46-page civil complaint filed by the US government in a court in California said Mr Obiang earned $US6799 a month for his government role but engaged in "extortion, misappropriation, embezzlement, or theft of public funds" to fund his lavish life.
The US is seeking to recover $US71 million in assets from Mr Obiang for "the benefit of the people of the country from which it was taken".
Mr Obiang's extraordinary catalogue of spending included $US3.2 million on Jackson items. He paid $US275,000 for one of the late singer's white crystal-covered gloves and $US80,000 on a pair of his crystal-covered socks. He also spent $US245,000 on a basketball signed by Jackson and the basketball player Michael Jordan. In June, 2006, he paid $US38.5 million for his 12-acre estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, which included a private cinema and golf course. In the same month, he paid $US30 million for a Gulfstream G-V private jet.
He also went on shopping sprees for designer clothes, spending $US80,000 at Gucci and $US50,000 at Dolce & Gabbana in a single month.
According to the court documents, his cars included a $US2 million Maserati, and two Bugatti Veyrons worth $US2 million and $US1.3 million. He also owned eight Ferraris, seven Rolls Royces, five Bentleys, four Mercedes, two Lamborghinis and an Aston Martin.
In June, 2005, he bought two high performance 50ft speedboats worth $US2 million and had one shipped to Hawaii so he could use it on a visit there. It capsized and had to be salvaged at a cost of $US400,000.
In what would have been his most lavish expense, he commissioned a German company in 2008 to design a "mega yacht" worth $US380 million, nearly three times what Equatorial Guinea spends on health and education in a year. After the plan became public, Equatorial Guinea announced he would not be buying it. He also paid $US6.5 million for a house in the celebrity enclave of Bel Air in Los Angeles.
Mr Obiang first moved to the United States in 1991, at the age of 23, to study English at Pepperdine University in Malibu and lived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He dropped out after five months.
In 1998 he was appointed forestry minister by his father, who took over the country in a bloody coup in 1979. According to the US Justice Department, the country's valuable natural resources, including oil, gas and timber, were allegedly used to line the pockets of the president, his son and their close associates.
Alleged corruption included bribery and money laundering schemes, such as demanding fees from companies before signing logging concessions, or paying a tax before getting timber exports approved. The complaint said: "During President Obiang's more than 30-year rule members of the inner circle have amassed extraordinary wealth through a variety of corrupt schemes."
Late last year Mr Obiang moved his luxury sports car collection, along with motorcycles worth $US400,000, from Los Angeles to France. Eleven of his vehicles were seized there last month. His private jet is believed to be in Equatorial Guinea but US officials said they would try to seize it if it landed in another country.
A Washington-based spokesman for Equatorial Guinea and Mr Obiang said there had been "no wrongdoing". He said: "We intend to carefully review the allegations of this complaint now that we finally have access to it. We look forward to meeting with representatives of the Department of Justice to provide information that we hope will resolve the issues presented."
The Daily Telegraph, London