When Conflicts of Interest Go Unpunished
Why does the Angolan President’s Minister of State and Head of the Intelligence Bureau have a side job as a managing director in Macau, China, in direct contravention of the Angolan Constitution which specifically prohibits such conflict of interest?
Documentary proof sent to Maka Angola shows that General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa”, and his wife Luísa de Fátima Geovetty, set up a private company named Baía Consulting Limited based on the 7th floor of the Lun Pong Building at No. 763 Avenida da Praia Grande, in Macau on January 26 this year.
The couple are registered as equal partners in the business and also as managers.
On the very same day that the company was registered, the General and his wife, issued a power of attorney to the Macau-based lawyer, Barry Shu Mun Cheong, who also happens to own the office where Baía is based. This power of attorney had already been rubber-stamped by Ana Paula Gomes Germano, at Luanda’s Fourth Notary Public Office three weeks earlier.
General Kopelipa has for many years enjoyed a close and privileged relationship with the Chinese government as well as with private entrepreneurs from that country, thanks to his stint at Angola’s Office of National Reconstruction where he controlled both Chinese credits for, and participation in, the rebuilding of the country’s war-damaged infrastructures.
It was a time when Sonangol’s revenues, as well as stocks of crude oil, were freely available to the Presidential triumvirate, which at the time included Manuel Vicente, (then Sonangol President) and General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, “Dino”, (President José Eduardo dos Santos’s front man for his private business dealings). The triumvirate have all amassed colossal fortunes, allegedly held in secret offshore accounts in international tax havens far from Angola.
However, increasing pressure on Caribbean tax havens to reveal their secrets is pushing many to move their ill-gotten gains to the Far East. Could this have anything at all to do with the Minister’s new undertaking?
It’s not as though General Kopelipa is unaware of his obligations under the Constitution. He was investigated by the Attorney-General’s office back in 2013 (Preliminary Investigation No. 06 – A/2012) in connection with a Maka Angola report about the murky involvement of the presidential triumvirate in a company named Biocom.
The Attorney General, a close friend of all those involved, may have failed to grasp the full picture in his summing up of the case, as he ruled that there was nothing to link General Kopelipa, General Dino or Manuel Vicente to any shares in Biocom.
A few months later, General Dino publicly admitted he was a partner.
Similarly, the Attorney General affirmed that while it was true that General Kopelipa served on the board of directors of the Portuguese company World Wide Capital SGPS, S.A. until 2010, there was no conflict of interest because, “the General’s role was merely advisory… he never had any executive role.”
The official report, written by Deputy Attorney-General, Domingos Salvador André Baxe, went further, stating: “General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior, of all the accused, was the only one who had a position on the board of WWC, S.A. but he did not have any executive role and is no longer on the board, as he resigned the position when the Constitution of the Republic of Angola came into force.”
He stated that the General resigned as a director in order to comply with Article 138, 2 (a) and (b)of the Angolan Constitution which states:
“2. The offices of Minister of State, Minister, Secretary of State and Vice Minister shall also be incompatible with any of the following:
a) Paid employment in any public or private institution, except those dedicated to teaching or academic research;
b) Administrative, managerial or any other corporate position in commercial companies and other institutions engaged in profit-making pursuits;”
This argument served to exonerate General Kopelipa from any charges of conflict of interest prior to the current Constitution coming into force in 2010.
So he cannot claim ignorance. How then can General Kopelipa knowingly breach the constitution again in 2016 by setting up a private company in which he is listed as the manager?
Of course, like all the President’s most trusted men, he believes he can operate with impunity.
When even the Attorney General, General João Maria de Sousa, has been accused of corruption and inconstitutional acts, all the evidence suggests that corruption is so institutionalized in Angola that it is unlikely anyone will investigate General Kopelipa’s new venture, which sources in Macau say is a perfect front for money laundering.