Angolan Vice-President Vicente’s Illegal Business Role

Angolan Vice-President Manuel Vicente is facing a criminal complaint over business dealings that are allegedly contrary to Angolan laws that govern the private affairs of the highest government officials.

The case, brought by journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais, refers in particular to Vicente’s role in China Sonangol International Holding, a majority Chinese-owned private company. Marques presented the complaint to the Angolan Attorney General on Thursday, August 8.

The complaint calls on the authorities to initiate impeachment proceedings against Vicente. It cites Article 138 of the Angolan Constitution, which states that positions of Ministers of State, Ministers, Secretaries of State and Deputy Ministers are incompatible with “any administrative functions, management or any corporate position in companies and other purposes of an economic nature.”

The complainant told Maka Angola that Manuel Vicente’s involvement with Chinese interests at a time when he was already vice-president-elect would cause him to favour “the influence and geostrategic dominance of China and Chinese interests over the national independence, ownership and management of natural resources and collective decisional autonomy of the Angolan state.”

Vicente, formerly chief executive of the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, was appointed Minister of State in 2012, and was elected Vice-President in the election of August 31, 2012. On September 6, 2912, while still Vice-President-elect, Vicente accepted the position of administrator of the capital company China Sonangol International Holding.

More than two-thirds of China Sonangol’s stock capital is held by Chinese parties through Dayuan International Development Limited. Documents presented to the Angolan Attorney General show that Dayuan acquired its controlling stake in China Sonangol through a capital investment of only US$7,000. Dayuan has its headquarters in Queensway, Hong Kong, in the same building as China Sonangol.

Sonangol, which possesses a legal monopoly on oil and gas production in Angola, retains a 30 percent minority shareholding in China Sonangol. The complaint brought before the Attorney General argues that because Vicente was chief executive of Sonangol at the time when China Sonangol was established, his subsequent appointment as an executive of the Chinese-owned company raises questions about possible corruption and influence peddling. Both of these are prohibited by Angolan law and by international treaties to which Angola is party.

Although Article 138 of the Angolan Constitution does not mention the office of Vice-President explicitly, the complaint argues that in an extensive interpretation the law should apply to the Vice-President as a full member of the Executive.