NO MAGIC – ANGOLA’S BANKING SYSTEM IS JUST SMOKE AND MIRRORS

What happened to the US $2 billion injection of funds from Angola’s central bank (BNA) in 2014 that was supposed to refinance the Banco Económico (BE) as it emerged from the ashes of the failed Banco Espírito Santos (BESA)? Surely José de Lima Massano must have some idea? He was Governor of the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) then and is again now. Did he keep track of where the money went? Because the BE is failing again and he seems all too ready to throw good money after bad: ordering majority shareholder Sonangol to inject a further US $1.2 billion of public money into it. So who does this bailout benefit? Mr. Massano is the master magician tasked by President João Lourenço with restoring good governance to the Angolan banking system. Is he not up to the job? Or is he actively sabotaging it? According to Diamantino de Azevedo, […]

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Vincent Miclet’s Angolan (Mis)Adventures

When Le Monde profiled the African-born businessman Vincent Miclet in November 2018, it called him the “Gatsby” of Francophone Africa. The inference was clear: opulence and decadence combined in a single name. Gatsby was the fatally-flawed eponymous character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, whose fabulous wealth was obtained through mysterious, possibly illegal, means and whose machinations led to his downfall. Vincent Miclet (on the main foto) was presented as somewhat exotic: a slick, fifty-something millionaire playboy, born and educated to Baccalaureate level in Africa, his business acumen, in his own words, “self-taught”. In a self-serving interview with Le Monde, Miclet hoped to portray himself as a business genius cheated by Angola’s corrupt Generals. Publication ensured numerous commentators would take a closer look. The French businessman did not respond the questionnaire . This is the first in a series of investigations by Maka Angola. BUDDIES AND BRIBES According to Liberation, Miclet […]

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They called me crazy!

They called me crazy! They also branded me “frustrated”, “anti-patriotic”, “a CIA agent”, “a sell-out”, and “a traitor”. I endured endless political harassment and countless run-ins with the police. I had to cope with smear campaigns, economic deprivation and social isolation. I was put on trial for exposing their human rights abuse and corruption. Who are “they”?  “They” are the members of the Dos Santos Administration:  the individuals who were the beneficiaries of, and accomplices in, then-President José Eduardo dos Santos’s regime.  They’re the ones who embodied the institutionalized corruption and the state capture of the economy, the repression and the fear that pervaded Angola during the 38 years Dos Santos held power. Then in September 2017, Dos Santos’s chosen successor João Lourenço was elected President and decided that the stench of corruption was too much to bear. The result is that a number of high-profile and high-ranking malcreants within […]

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Only in Angola: Fraudster’s Bank Gets Bail-Out

The notorious Angolan-Swiss fraudster, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais,  was remanded in custody in Angola last September to await trial on charges of embezzling billions of dollars from the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.    So why are the Angolan authorities allowing him to continue as the majority owner and head of the Banco Kwanza Investimentos, S.A.?  And what on earth persuaded the Governor of Angola’s central bank to bail out Bastos de Morais’s failing ‘investment’ bank?    FLOUTING THE RULES Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais (JCBM) registered the BKI (initially under the name of Banco Kwanza Invest, S.A.) with himself as the majority owner with 85% of the stock and the remaining 15% registered in the name of Sérgio Ferreira Mata da Costa.  This was a ruse to hide the real owner, the former BKI Chairman of the Board and Swiss national, Marcel Kruse, presumably to comply with a requirement for an Angolan […]

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The Hunter, Hunted: An Angolan General’s Hunting Lodge

Angolans call the remote southeastern province of Kuando Kubango “the end of the world” (in Portuguese: “o fim do mundo”).  Bordering Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, it’s more than a thousand kilometres inland from their country’s capital and a byword for the poverty and destruction wrought by more than 30 years of civil war. As its ruined roads, bridges and infrastructure remind us to this day, Kuando Kubango was a heavily-mined battleground; the heartland of the US-backed rebel UNITA movement, headquartered in Jamba.   With the end of the civil war in 2002, the national government did set aside funds for rebuilding.  The so-called ‘Peace Dividend’ has allowed individuals to amass huge fortunes from Angola’s reconstruction but all these years later Kuando Kubango remains largely unreconstructed, in part because of the diversion of public funds into the pockets of corrupt officials during the Administration of former President José Eduardo dos Santos. […]

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Angola’s ‘Money Pit’ Currency Museum

The Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), the country’s central bank, is housed in one of the prettiest colonial buildings that the capital city has to offer: a confection of Portuguese colonial construction in pink and white, consisting of two colonnaded wings which meet at a circular tower topped by a distinctive red-tiled cupola. The ‘wedding cake’, completed in 1956, occupies an entire block of Luanda’s Marginal, the gently-curving and tree-lined avenue which runs the length of the picturesque bay. Buried in the paved pedestrian square alongside the bank, some meters beneath an elaborate winged structure, is one of the city’s lesser known museums: the subterranean ‘Museu da Moeda’ (the Currency Museum). Opened in 2016, it may only have a single below-ground exhibition room with exhibits of dubious worth but this museum is worthy of a little more attention than it has received so far. The Currency Museum project, which began […]

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Angolan Port Authority Seeks End to Sogester Contract

The Danish multinational giant, Maersk, stands accused of making obscene profits at the expense of Angolan dockworkers amid calls for the contract awarded to its subsidiary, Sogester, to be ripped up. The Port of Namibe says it is struggling to pay its workers because it is powerless to revoke a 2014 contract which gives 90% of income to the port’s commercial operator, Sogester, a joint partnership between the Maersk group’s APM Terminals and a company which is the commercial arm of Angola’s ruling MPLA party. According to the Port of Namibe board chairman, António Samuel, “it has been an enormous struggle to safeguard workers’ pay and keep going on the 10%”. The dockworkers’ union agrees – and says it is high time this contract was torn up. The port authority and union are hoping the government of President João Lourenço (elected in September 2017) will step in to review what […]

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Legal Jeopardy for the Angolan ‘Princess’

The woman who once styled herself as Africa’s first female billionaire, controlling a complex empire of companies registered around the world, is discovering that all those overseas registrations make her vulnerable to legal action in multiple jurisdictions. As reported extensively by Maka Angola over many years, evidence shows the Dos Santos family and associates customarily registered companies overseas (often in tax havens known for lax supervision) using them as vehicles for the sole purpose of transferring large sums of money between multiple companies owned or controlled by the Dos Santos cohort. International experts say such transactions between shell companies are typical of large-scale embezzlement and money-laundering. One particular financial manoeuvre involving nearly US $500 million transferred through a Dutch-registered subsidiary has now placed Isabel dos Santos in the position of having to defend herself against a lawsuit in the Netherlands in a case that has also been the subject of […]

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Swindling Angola’s Central Bank

Although to date Angola’s efforts have focused on severing ties to Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais’ management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, his involvement in what is alleged to have been the systematic theft of money from the Angolan public purse goes further than the mismanagement of the Sovereign Fund. Up to now the government has remained totally silent about a further US $3 billion dollars that Bastos secured from Angola’s Central Bank (Banco Nacional de Angola – BNA). As with the Sovereign Fund monies, the BNA funds also found their way to the Northern Trust Bank in England, reportedly used as the hub for diverting funds obtained from Angola into Bastos’ Swiss-based Quantum Global Group. Maka Angola expanded its investigations after a whistleblower from the BNA entered into contact subject to guarantees of anonymity. The BNA official asserted that “these funds [the BNA’s US$3 billion] have been managed without accountability.” […]

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Temporary Reprieve, or Pyrrhic Victory?

Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais – an indicted swindler connected to the former kleptocratic regime in Angola, accused of the brazen theft of untold millions of dollars of public money – has obtained a temporary victory in his legal battles. An attempt by lawyers representing the Angolan government to prevent Bastos de Morais from continuing to access the US $5 billion dollar Angolan Sovereign Fund, was not upheld by the courts in London, UK due to their failure to produce the required documentation in time. The effect is to allow Bastos de Morais, who is already facing charges for embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, to regain access to hundreds more. Blame for this procedural mishap is reputedly down to ineptitude by Angola’s new government, possibly related to the ruling party’s desire to protect the former President. The word in London is that Luanda is […]

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