Angolan Minister Faces Investigation over Real Estate Deal
Angola’s Attorney-General has been asked to open an immediate criminal investigation into a multi-million-dollar real estate deal involving the Angolan Transport Minister and a close friend. It is alleged the deal not only violated the Law on Public Probity but may also have involved a conspiracy to defraud the government of tens of millions of dollars. Maka Angola‘s Rafael Marques reports on a burgeoning scandal.
In September 2021, the office of the President of Angola issued Decree 159/21 authorizing the purchase of two privately-owned buildings (the Welwitschia Business Centre and the Chicala) in the capital, Luanda, at a total cost of 114 million US dollars to provide office space for the Ministry of Transport and a Regulatory Agency.
A subsequent investigation by Rafael Marques of Maka Angola, has reported to the Attorney-General’s Office allegations that a) the buildings, which include luxury penthouse residential space, were not fit for the purpose stated, b) there was a fraudulent and inflationary misrepresentation of the actual value of the buildings with the intent to defraud the public purse and c) that the transaction involved a conflict of pecuniary interest in violation of the Law on Public Probity because of the undeclared and long-standing relationship between the seller and the Minister of Transport.
Evidence emerged that the joint owner and Director-General of the company registered as the owner of the Welwitschia Business Centre (WBC), Rui Óscar Ferreira Santos Van-Dúnem, was a lifelong close friend of the Minister of Transport, Ricardo Viegas D’Abreu and that the conflict of interest had not been disclosed as required by Angolan law.
Furthermore, the 11-storey WBC, constructed in 2011 at a cost of 30 million USD with the top two floors arranged as private luxury penthouse apartments, had been listed for sale at a price of 45 million USD for several years but found no buyer. A second building, the Chicala, similarly had been languishing on the real estate market for some time at a considerably lower price. The elevated asking price for the two buildings, almost double their actual valuation, suggested an attempt to mislead the government over their true market value and defraud the Treasury of tens of millions of US dollars.
As Rafael Marques outlines in his report to the Attorney-General’s office, concerns over the suitability of the two buildings for the stated purpose, the unjustified and inflated price, and the undeclared conflict of interest between the seller and the Minister therefore require an immediate criminal investigation into whether the real estate deal involved attempted or actual impropriety, influence trafficking, corruption, collusion, misrepresentation, fraud or embezzlement.