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

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Did Teodorin Obiang, son of the president of tiny, impoverished Equatorial Guinea try to buy what would have been the world's second most expensive custom-built yacht?

He most certainly did, according to Global Witness, a London-based anticorruption group.

Mr. Obiang, who doubles as the country's agricultural minister, approached Germany's Kusch Yachts to commission "Zen": a $380 million football field-length cruise-liner packing a movie theater, restaurant, bar, fingerprint-activated doorknobs, and a swimming pool, says Global Witness.

Zen's basic design was completed by Kusch in December 2009 for $342,000 with an original delivery date set for late 2012, but construction has not yet started.

Sticker shock?

The government of the oil-rich but dirt-poor nation says Obiang never intended to use government funds to purchase a personal ark. He was just, they say, inquiring on what such a boat would cost – then caught sticker shock and thought better of his sealust.

But even if they're right, what was a guy whose official salary is only $81,588 a year be doing at the yacht store? It would take 4,600 years of regular wages to pay off Project Zen. Even an average yacht – a $65 million proposition, according to a 2005 Forbes Magazine report – would require 797 years of steady government work as the agricultural minister.


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