Brazilian customs authorities seized more than $16 million in cash and jewelry carried in their luggage by a delegation accompanying the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, local media reported Saturday night.
The Brazilian Federal Police found $1.5 million in one suitcase, and luxury watches valued at about $15 million, in another, according to the newspaper Estado de S. Paulo.
Teodorin Obiang Nguema Mangue, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea and son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power for 38 years, was part of the 11-person delegation that landed Friday on board a private plane at Viracapos airport in Campinas, near Sao Paulo.
According to Brazilian TV Globo, the delegation was not on an official mission, so only Obiang had diplomatic immunity. The other members had their luggage searched at customs and subjected to interrogation, while the vice President was waiting in a car next to the airport.
Brazilian law requires more than R $10,000 (about $2,400) to be declared in cash when entering the country.
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The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP that "there is ongoing communication with the Federal Police and Customs to follow the case and decide on the measures to be taken," without giving further details.
The Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in Brasilia has not replied to AFP's request.
According to a Guinean diplomatic source cited by the State of S. Paulo, Vice President Obiang was carrying the cash to pay for medical treatment to be followed in Sao Paulo. The clocks, which bear their initials, would be for the "personal use" of the son of the President of the African country.
Sentenced in October 2017 to three years' suspended imprisonment in France for money laundering and charged with public funding for a high life train, Teodorin has visited Brazil several times.
In 2015, he attended the famous Rio de Janeiro carnival, when a Samba school scoured with the African country as a theme. The school won the title, but received strong criticism for allegedly being funded by President Obiang's regime.