The son of Equatorial Guinea’s leader has been put under formal investigation in France over money-laundering allegations, his lawyer has said.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, his father’s second vice-president, denies embezzling state funds.
In 2012, France issued an arrest warrant for him and seized his Paris mansion and several of his luxury cars.
Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s largest oil exporters, but most of its 740,000 inhabitants live in poverty.
Correspondents say Teodorin Obiang, who is in his early forties, is known for his lavish lifestyle.
His six-storey Paris villa, estimated to be worth more than $100m (£60.5m), was located on Avenue Foch, one the most prestigious neighbourhoods of the French capital.
His father, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, seized power from his uncle in 1979 and was re-elected in 2009 with 95% of the vote.
The case against Teodorin Obiang stems from investigations by French judges into allegations that several African leaders have bought assets in France with embezzled public funds.
These include President Obiang, Congo-Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.
Teodorin Obiang was informed that he had been put under investigation on Wednesday by video conference, his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said.
Under French law, a formal investigation is one step closer to a trial, but some cases can be dropped without going to court.
Since 2011, the US government has been seeking to recover millions of dollars of Teodorin Obiang’s assets including a Gulfstream jet, yachts, a Malibu mansion and nearly $2m in Michael Jackson memorabilia.