Corrupt politicians and dodgy businesses are stealing millions of dollars from the countries they are supposed to serve, using phantom firms and tax havens to do it.
They often then buy valuable property overseas in the most desirable parts of the world. Phantom firms, fake companies set up to hide the identity of the people who control them, are used to move money out of developing countries and into bank accounts, which can then be used to buy properties like these.
The good news is that these dodgy dealers don’t always get away with it. Come along for a virtual tour of some of the seized properties of disgraced politicians and company bosses.
Cecilia Ibru’s charming Maryland home
One of the most prolific buyers of property on our tour is Cecilia Ibru, the former managing director of Oceanic Bank. She was sentenced to six months in prison for fraud and ordered to hand over $1.2 billion in cash and assets. Authorities seized an incredible 103 properties in the United States, Nigeria, South Africa, Dubai and London.
Teodorin Obiang’s Malibu mansion and Paris penthouse
Teodorin Obiang, the son of President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, has had estates seized in Malibu, California and Paris, as well as sports cars and Michael Jackson memorabilia valued at $1.8 million (including a while jewel-encrusted glove from the Bad tour).
Imelda Marcos’ luxury New York apartments – and Long Island mansion
Though famous for her vast shoe collection, Imelda Marcos, wife of former President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, also had a penchant for New York real estate. The World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative estimates they siphoned between $5 to 10 billion from the country.
James Onanefe Ibori’s Texas mansion (with tennis court!)
The seized Texas mansion of Governor James Onanefe Ibori, who misappropriated millions as the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State. Estimated Value: $1.7 million.
Former Zaire President Seko’s seaside villa in southern France
This $4 million villa in southern France was once owned by former President of Zaire, Mobuto Sese Seko. He plundered an estimated $4 to 5 billion from the country during his 32 years in power.
Muammar Gaddafi’s Roman palazzo
In 2012 Italian authorities seized more than $1.5 billion in assets controlled by the family of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, including this palazzo in Rome.