The Danish beauty Christina Mikkelsen met Teodorin Obiang, the son of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea, in 2013. She was invited to an event in Equatorial Guinea through her beauty organization. They quickly fell into conversation, and there was good chemistry from the start, she recalled.
Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Sahara’s largest oil producers. With a population of nearly 2.000,000, it is the richest country per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 69th in the world. However, the wealth is distributed very unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches. The country ranks 144th on the UN’s 2014 Human Development Index. The UN says that less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching five.
The authoritarian regime ruling Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the “worst of the worst” in Freedom House’s annual survey of political and civil rights. Reporters Without Borders ranks President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo among its “predators” of press freedom. Human trafficking is a significant problem, with the US Trafficking in Persons Report, 2012, stating that “Equatorial Guinea is a source and destination for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.” The report rates Equatorial Guinea as a “Tier 3” country, the lowest (worst) ranking: “Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”
As the agriculture and forestry minister of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang was paid €3,200 (£2,700) a month.
He warmed many hearts by spending close to R10,000,000 over a weekend in South Africa on champagne, property renovations, a black 2004 Bentley Arnage, a cream 2005 Bentley Continental R from MG Rover Cape Town and a 2005 Lamborghini Murcielago. Obiang’s foreign interests include two houses in South Africa, worth a combined R50,000,000, a $31,000,000 compound in Malibu, California, a 5,000 square feet (460 m2) home on Avenue Foch in the affluent 16th arrondissement of Paris, and the hip hop music record label TNO Entertainment. In 2008 he owned one of the 30 models of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 sports car (estimated at 1,100,000 euros) and a Maserati MC 12 at 700,000 euros. He went on to purchase another Bugatti Veyron, and tried to purchase a third. His US assets include a Gulfstream jet, yachts, cars and Michael Jackson memorabilia.
When asked if it was a struggle to pay for these things on his government salary he said yes but he had been putting in a lot of overtime recently.
When asked what was it that attracted her to him, Ms. Mikkelsen replied it was his smile.