Impulso: how Angolas presidential family struck it lucky from the mining survey
The Angolan government last May embarked upon an aerial survey aimed at mapping mineral resources across the entire territory of Angola. Maka Angola here presents the first investigation into the three consortia that won the tenders for the National Geological Plan (PLANAGEO), with contracts valued at over US$300 million.
The first investigation focuses on the consortium led by the Spanish company Impulso, in partnership with the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME) and the Portuguese National Laboratory of Energy and Geology (LNEG): this consortium has a contract worth US$115 million. The consortium is responsible for researching 37.5 percent of the national territory, an area of 470,000 square kilometres, over a five-year period. The area covers the provinces of Bié, Benguela, Huambo, Huíla, Namibe, Cunene and part of Cuango-Cubango and Kwanza-Sul.
According to information put out by Impulso, it is in charge of managing the consortium. So what is suspicious about the contract, which includes the involvement of the two long-established Spanish and Portuguese government geological institutes?
Impulso has an Angolan subsidiary, in partnership with Angolan government members and their families.
According to documents obtained by Maka Angola, Impulso Angola is 50 percent owned by a Spanish company, Impulso Industrial Alternativo S.A., also known as Impulso Astúrias. With regard to the Angolan side of the shareholding, the Secretary of State for Information Technology, Pedro Sebastião Teta, owns 30 percent of the shares, while a further 10 percent is held by President José Eduardo dos Santos’s niece Celmira Bento dos Santos Sousa Clemente jointly with her husband, the secretary of state for urban development, Manuel Francisco da Silva Clemente Júnior. The remaining 10 percent share belongs to Teresa Reis Victor, the wife of Joaquim Silvestre António, who is secretary of state for housing and the brother of first lady Ana Paula dos Santos.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the shareholders, signed in Spain on 20 November 2008 explains why shares were allocated to the president’s niece (Mana Marta’s daughter), named as the third contracting party, and the first lady’s sister-in-law, named as the fourth contracting party.
“The third and fourth contracting parties are Angolan individuals strongly involved in the Angolan market where they have developed their professional activity, and who can boast various important business contacts in terms of the shareholding objective of the new company to be established,” point (g) of the memorandum reads.
On the subject of shareholders’ obligations, the Memorandum of Understanding states that “it is incumbent on the third and fourth contracting parties to provide all the input on promoting and publicising services and gathering clients to use the services offered by Impulso Angola”.
The Memorandum also states clearly that “Impulso Astúrias will cease to operate in the Angolan market from the moment when Impulso Angola is legally constituted according to the laws of the Republic of Angola”. Less than a week after the signing of the Memorandum, Impulso Angola had already been legally constituted, and on 28 November 2008 received its Certificate of Commercial Registration, number 869-08/081126.
Ever since it was set up, Impulso Angola has been managed by Filomena Teta das Neves Estêvâo, the sister of secretary of state Pedro Teta who holds the majority of the Angolan shares. Since 30 November 2012, Filomena Teta has also been adviser to the office of the Secretary of State for Information Technology, her brother Pedro Sebastião Teta, and has for all practical purposes been his chief of staff. Thus she has simultaneously been the manager of a private business and a high-ranking servant of the state.
Since 2009 Pedro Sebastião Teta has himself maintained his position on the board of Impulso Angola.
Law? What law?
The Angolan Constitution (Article 138, no. 2, line B) provides that someone holding the office of Secretary of State may not perform any shareholder function in commercial companies. Yet this is what Pedro Sebastião Teta is doing by holding a position on the board of Impulso. For several years he has relied for legal advice on the Portuguese law firm Ana Gomes Ferreira and Associates, which means he cannot claim to be ignorant or unaware of legislation in force.
In fact, Mr Teta’s ideas with regard to that piece of legislation are made quite clear by one of Impulso Angola’s minutes , seen by Maka Angola. According to the minutes, the Secretary of State for Information Technology explained to his Spanish counterpart, that according to the law “the contracts between Impulso Angola and Impulso Astúrias must be ‘stamped’ by the Finance Ministry in order to be legal, but it is recognised that in Angola no one does this. Dr Filomena [his sister, subordinate in government and a co-member of the Impulso board] is of the opinion that [the contracts] must be signed.”
The very same set of minutes lays down a table for the payment of “business commissions” to unspecified beneficiaries, ranging from 10 percent in the case of contracts up to US$500,000 to 5 percent for contracts in excess of US$1.5 million. As a rule, Impulso’s contracts in Angola are treated as state entities. The Law of Probity regards the payment of commissions to public servants as an act of corruption.
The international connection
The consortium led by Impulso, which includes the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME) and the Portuguese National Laboratory of Energy and Geology (LNEG) is therefore involved in acts of influence peddling and corruption.
In 2006 Angola incorporated the United Nations Convention Against Corruption into its domestic legislation. The convention precisely defines influence peddling as an act of corruption. The Penal Code, which gives the convention penal force, makes it a crime for public servants themselves, or the “spouse or any ancestor or descendent or sibling or relative in the same degree” of a public servant, to receive patrimonial or any other illicit advantage.
Impulso Industrial Alternativo S.A. is part of the United Nations Global Compact and claims to have adopted a zero tolerance policy towards corruption. The UN Global Compact is an initiative intended to bring companies’ operations and strategies into line “with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption”.
This stated commitment to worthy principles did not prevent the Spanish businessman Avelino Suárez Alvarez rom being appointed last April as the honorary consul of Angola in the Spanish region of Astúrias. The consulate operates from the Impulso headquarters.