All Aboard the Gravy Train

Angola’s gravy train has been rumbling along one set of tracks for the past 37 years, with all-encompassing corruption tainting the ruling MPLA party under President José Eduardo dos Santos. Those at the apex of the pyramid have diverted billions of dollars from the economy to their own bank accounts, while ensuring the loyalty of those beneath them by dispensing cash, goods and favors as needed. With just over two months to go to the presidential election that will see a change of leadership, members of the National Assembly (Angola’s parliament) are being given a sign that it will be ‘business as usual’. The National Assembly is chaired by veteran MPLA politburo member, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos “Nandó”. Nandó is a rather sinister character with a smile likened to that of a cat which has just devoured its prey. His official job titles (police chief, Interior Minister, Prime […]

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Sonangol on the Brink

Putting the President’s daughter in charge of Angola’s national oil company has been such a ‘good move’ that the company is now reported to be on the brink of bankruptcy. The ‘genius’ businesswoman and her cabal of Portuguese consultants have succeeded only in a level of mismanagement greater than ever before. And so it has come to pass that the state monopoly that controls Angola’s main source of income is now reduced to the role of beggar. Maka Angola is reliably informed that on May 17 Isabel dos Santos went to see the Finance Minister, Archer Mangueira, to request an injection of three billion dollars (!!) to rescue Sonangol from imminent bankruptcy. A source close to the Portuguese consultancy firm which has been the de facto administrator of Sonangol on behalf of Isabel dos Santos, told Maka Angola that the Minister had to inform the President of the Sonangol Board […]

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All the President’s Children

Are you suffering from corruption fatigue? Yes, it gets to us all. There is just so much of it. Everywhere. Shameless, unethical, immoral, illegal, self-serving behavior is rampant. From the USA to North Korea, it seems few countries are immune to the self-enriching predations of the “one-percenters”. So how should we react to the news that the jobless, student, twenty-something year-old child of an ageing African dictator threw down €500,000 on a charity bid just so he could be photographed alongside some Hollywood stars like Will Smith? Before you yawn and turn the page, consider this. While this pampered princeling was quaffing champagne at the AMFAR gala in Cannes, dozens of his fellow countrymen of all ages were dying unnecessarily for lack of the most basic medicine and medical equipment. That’s because his country’s oil wealth has been siphoned off year after year, leaving little in the state budget for […]

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The Power Behind Cabinda’s Power Stations

Why would Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos issue a presidential decree (25/17) in February this year to award an estimated US $200 million r contract for a 100 Megawatt bi-fuel power station in Cabinda to an unknown entity named “Vavita Power S.A.”? It’s a sweet deal: as spelled out in that presidential decree, it is a renewable 25- year arrangement accompanied by purchase guarantees, thanks to an Energy Acquisition Contract (Contrato de Aquisição de Energia, CAE) that obliges future governments to buy whatever energy is produced for the National Grid (Rede Nacional de Transporte, RNT). So far as industry experts have been able to ascertain, Vavita is what they call a ‘ghost’ company, based in the central headquarters of a bank with no branches. They wonder why Angola’s President would entrust an unknown company with the task of constructing and operating another dual-fuel thermoelectric power station for Cabinda. Although […]

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Dams for the Damned

When China and Angola signed a US $4.5 billion financing agreement last year to fund the construction of a dam and hydro-electric power station at Caculo Cabaça in Kwanza-Norte province, did the Chinese realize this project would be for the benefit of the Angolan President’s daughter? The loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), is meant to pay for the services of the consortium selected to build the hydro-electric dam. But the backstory reveals, yet again, how President José Eduardo dos Santos uses his presidential decrees and orders to enrich his own family. Evidence supplied to Maka Angola shows that Isabel dos Santos will be a major beneficiary of the deal signed on her daddy’s behalf by Finance Minister Archer Mangueira, with all concerned apparently unaware of procedures required by law (and followed by the rest of the world) to obtain tenders for major publics works projects. […]

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Stealing with Presidential Decrees

When Angola’s President decreed in 2012 that the north-western enclave of Cabinda should have a deep-water port, it was heralded as a private sector deal that wouldn’t cost the Angolan state a single cent. The estimated US $540 million construction costs would be funded by private investors and banks. For once, there was no Angolan public sector involvement contemplated. That proved to be a chimera. In fact, the entire Caio Port (Porto de Caio) concept seems to have been a vanity project involving the President’s son, José Filomeno dos Santos known as Zenú and his very close friend and financial mentor, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. And sadly, the project is bleeding millions upon millions of dollars from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund controlled by Zenú. A very ‘private’ port The proposal for Cabinda’s deep water port at Caio was first announced in a 2012 presidential decree as a wholly private-sector […]

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Portuguese Corruption Trial Snares Angola’s Vice President

The net is closing around Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, the former CEO of the country’s oil giant Sonangol and a man long accused of being a conduit for the diversion of oil revenues into international business deals linked to the Angolan President, his family and close associates. He faces charges in connection with the alleged suborning of a Portuguese prosecutor. Orlando Figueira, in 2013 to set aside an investigation into money-laundering involving the purchase of a US $4 million luxury apartment in Lisbon. Both the prosecutor and Vicente’s lawyer, Paulo Blanco, have also been indicted on charges of violating court confidentiality regarding the investigation into the Angolan subsidiary (BESA) of the Banco de Espirito Santo (BES), which collapsed in 2014. If proven, then by suborning the prosecutor, the Angolans succeeded in interfering with the course of justice in Portugal to prevent any prosecution in the BESA investigation which, by unravelling […]

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Greasy Palms in Angola’s Oil Industry

Today Maka Angola can shed light on a relatively clumsy sleight of hand by the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sonangol USA. Step forward Baptista Sumbe, who occupied that position between 1997 and 2009. In 2006, for the sum of US $400,000, Baptista Sumbe and his wife Rosa acquired approximately 550 square meters of land, demarcated as Plot 4, Block 3, Section 11 of the Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. They borrowed $306,000 from the Compass Bank on June 26, 2006 to help pay for it. So far, so legit. But Baptista Sumbe didn’t really need a bank loan. He had already gone knocking on the door of Sonangol USA, the company in which he was Chairman of the Board. On November 1, 2006, Mr and Mrs Sumbe had arranged to borrow from Sonangol USA the sum of US $1,750,000 for their personal use. They […]

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Oil: A Lesson in Hand-Washing for Daddy’s Girls

Pay attention Ivanka Trump: this is a fun way to ramp up your profits! First you take control of a guaranteed money-maker (or more accurately, your daddy the President hands it to you); then you make sure that you have a majority (or at least hefty) stake in the key partner companies that produce, support or market your products. It’s a no-brainer. All you need is for daddy to win political power and deal you in. This is a true story in a post-truth world. Angola’s first daughter, Isabel dos Santos, is quite peeved that media upstarts dare to question her right (birthright) to have a finger in every succulent pie in Angola’s limited buffet. When accusations of nepotism are aired, when reports document suspicious business dealings, she stamps her pretty foot and sulks: “I am a victim of political intrigue”. Anointed president of the board of the state oil […]

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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 […]

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