According to the national television (TVGE), a minister and a former minister of Equatorial Guinea are suspected of involvement in the embezzlement of public funds amounting to “ten billion CFA francs” (15.2 million euros).
The investigation is centered on a group of five Equatoguineans who allegedly created several “fictitious” companies since 2019, with the intention of obtaining public contracts by forging the signature of the country’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The five individuals were arrested and are being held in custody at the gendarmerie in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
The TVGE reported that these individuals had created “nine fictitious companies” that provided maintenance services, public building maintenance, and beach services. The companies had allegedly concluded “24 fraudulent contracts” with the government.
TVGE accuses Rufino Ndong Esono Nchama, Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Promotion of Crafts since 2017, and Valentin Ela Maye, who was Minister of Economy and Finance between 2020 and 2023, of having been “in the pay” of these “fraudulent companies.”
The state television said that the court is looking into their alleged links with certain “fictitious” companies and that these two important figures were each receiving five million CFA francs per month (about 7,600 euros).
A source close to the case confirmed the opening of the investigation and stated that investigators are still trying to determine the number of people involved. The hearing of Mr. Nchama requires the authorization of the Prime Minister, TVGE said.
When asked, the Ministry of Justice did not specify the nature of the charges against the suspects or the penalties they may incur.
Equatorial Guinea is the third richest country in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of GDP per capita (World Bank, 2021), but it ranks 172nd out of 180 countries in the Transparency International corruption barometer. Equatorial Guinea discovered its large oil reserves in 1996, a development that led to the economic transformation of the country – it became a full member of OPEC on 25 May 2017.
Updates will be provided as this story develops.