The hip-hop star known as Eve, who is expected to release a new rap album this year, has been drawn into a massive U.S. Senate investigation into the illicit movement of millions of foreign dollars through the American financial system, a new government report shows.
Senate investigators spent three years tracking money flowing into the U.S. from the accounts of her on-and-off again boyfriend Teodorin Nguema Obiang. He is the playboy son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, the corrupt dictator whose three-decade reign has been marked by rumors -- believed to be falsely spread to incite fear -- of cannibalism. Investigators believe most, if not all, of the millions in cash came from corruption related to the massive oil and gas reserves off the coast of the tiny West African country.
According to the report released last night, Obiang used middle men – lawyers, escrow and real estate agents, and in one case, his then-girl friend, the statuesque rapper-actress Eve Jeffers – to allegedly set up shell companies in the U.S. Through those, investigators say, Obiang wired in funds that enabled him to buy luxury cars, a $30 million Malibu estate and place a down payment on a Gulfstream jet.
Two Los Angeles lawyers allegedly carried out most of the scheme. They were summoned to testify before the senate today to explain why they set up shell companies on Obiang's behalf.
Eve has a cameo in the report, as the president of what senate investigators described as a shell company. Obiang called it "Sweet Pink, Inc.," which was evidently set up in late 2005 "to employ individuals at the home [Obiang] maintained before he purchased the Malibu Property and to handle payroll and other matters related to the employment of those individuals," according to the report.
It is unclear if the money may have also helped Obiang finance his elaborate efforts to woo Eve, which included setting up a record label and reportedly paying $700,000 to rent Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's 300-foot yacht Tatoosh for a romantic Christmas cruise around St. Barts.
Loopholes Allow Foreign Corruption
Eve has appeared in movies alongside Hollywood superstars Daniel Craig, Kevin Bacon, Vin Diesel, Queen Latifah and Ice Cube. She recently starred on two episodes of the hit show Glee and is reportedly set to release a new album entitled "Lip Lock" this year.
Her publicist did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The status of their relationship is unclear, though reports have since had Obiang linked romantically to others.
If Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has his way, Obiang won't be funneling more money into the U.S. to court women, or do much of anything else.
The investigation, conducted by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Levin chairs, highlights the variety of loopholes that have allowed corrupt foreign officials to channel ill-gotten cash into legitimate American holdings.
"We've got some significant holes in our protection," Levin said. "We're going after corruption. It is a cancer. It erodes the rule of law."
Equatorial Guinea isn't the only country the committee is focusing on. The former president of Gabon, Omar Bongo and his relatives are also accused of moving more than $100 million dollars through U.S. banks to purchase armored vehicles and supply a "lavish lifestyle" for his son, current President Ali Bongo and his wife Inge Bongo, according to the report.
Inge Bongo once rented a home from Sean "P. Diddy" Combs for $25,000 per month and was seen on a VHI program "Really Rich Real Estate" shopping for a $25 million dollar home in California.
Now estranged from her husband, she is speaking out against what she said was massive corruption of the oil wealth in the country. She told ABC News that the Bongo family "wakes up in the morning and decide what are they going to buy, but it's at the expense of their character."
"Shop and shop and shop," said Inge. "They charter 747s and fill them. Everybody would get an envelope and you could buy your car and whatever you want. There were fleets of Porsches."
Oil-rich Nigeria and Angola are also featured in the report. The American wife of former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar helped him transfer more than $40 million dollars into U.S. banks. Pierre Falcone, a well-known Angolan arms dealer with close ties to the Angolan government, is currently serving six years in French prison for illegal arms dealing, tax fraud and money laundering. The report finds that over the course of 10 years, he used U.S. banks in Arizona to move millions of dollars around to various world-wide accounts.
In all of these countries, the general population lives in abject poverty– many live off as little as $2.00 per day.
The committee says that U.S. laws need to be strengthened in order to keep corrupt funds out of the United States, and hold foreign governments more accountable. "These four case histories demonstrate the need for the United States to strengthen its…controls to prevent corrupt foreign officials, their relatives and close associates from using U.S. professionals and financial institutions to conceal, protect and utilize their ill gotten gains."