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Did the son of Equatorial Guinea's leader really try to buy a $380 million yacht called 'Zen?'

Teodorin Obiang, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, tried to buy the world's second most expensive yacht, according to Global Witness, an anticorruption advocacy group in London.

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It's hard to fathom how a man who rolls with Malibuans and cuddles rap stars didn't have an inkling of what the world's the world's second most expensive oceangoing acropolis would do to his Bank of America checking account.

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Equatorial Guinea's poverty

And what would it cost the country? World, meet Equatorial Guinea: Africa's fourth-largest oil producer where poverty has somehow found the foot room to get worse since its two islands started shipping crude into your gas tank.

If all the money in the country was split per-person, the average Equatorial Guinean would harvest $37,900 a year. Instead, three-fourths live on less than five quarters a day, and a third die before age 40.

The country's meager health and education budget combined wouldn't pay for a third of the cost of Zen, Global Witness claims. Even the World Bank – which usually likes to see money funneled toward bridges, dams, power plants, something Rockerfeller-esque – has chastised the country for its meager education noblesse.

Yet if there's any question on where Obiang picked up his expensive tastes, here's the backstory, per Foreign Policy: In 1991, Walter International, a Houston-based gas company, pledged to pick up Obiang's tuition bill at Pepperdine University as a way of courting government goodwill during the early days of Equatorial Guinea's oil and gas exploration.

The bill came back pretty high – $50,000 for one semester – after the freshman ditched the dorms, rented a Malibu palace and a hotel suite, then promptly dropped out.

Walter International, its industry peers – and we who pump that sweet, light crude into our tanks – have been picking that bill up ever since.


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