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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Standard Chartered Bank Gets Wise to Angolan Corruption

Standard Chartered Bank has reportedly declined to authorize a US $300,000 payment from the Angolan state-owned oil giant Sonangol to a Maltese-registered shell company named ‘Wise Intelligence Solutions’ on suspicion of money laundering, conflict of interest and corruption. Information supplied to Maka Angola from sources in London, UK, shows that the private company’s registered owner is none other than Sonangol President Isabel dos Santos. She is the daughter of President José Eduardo dos Santos, who appointed her to the job last June, and the first female African billionaire. The sources say there are grounds to believe that ‘Wise’ is a shell company and that the transfer of funds was unjustifiable. The six-figure payment to ‘Wise’ was purported to be payment for “consultancy services”. Presumably, the intent was to remunerate the firm’s sole employee: its director Mário Filipe Moreira Leite Silva. He is well known in Angola as the man who […]

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Angola’s Lawless Lawmen

In Angola there is a well-known Portuguese saying that sums up the disconnect between appearance and reality: “para o Inglês ver” (literally “for the Englishman to see”). How apt. For it appears that the entire state apparatus under President José Eduardo dos Santos’s rule – constitutional guarantees, democratic principles and the rule of law –exist only for appearances’ sake. The latest example of blatant disregard of the law involves none other than Angola’s most senior lawman, the Attorney General of the Republic, General João Maria Moreira de Sousa. Maka Angola has documentary evidence that in 2011 three-star General Moreira de Sousa bought from the state a three-hectare parcel of ‘rural land’ with a prime sea view in Tango, in the municipality of Porto-Amboim in the province of Kwanza-Sul. Given its ‘rural’ designation, the land cost a mere 600,000 kwanzas (US $3,600). Thus, the Attorney General personally executed the transaction in […]

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Incompetence and Corruption Sinks Angola’s Development Bank

Angola’s state-owned banks, businesses and investment funds are all reportedly in trouble: either loss-making or on the brink of bankruptcy. The state oil giant, Sonangol, is floundering amid unpaid debts amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars; the crisis at the Credit and Savings Bank (the BPC, Banco de Poupança e Crédito) has led to a clean sweep of the board; and far from accumulating interest, the Angolan Sovereign Fund is losing hundreds of millions. The common denominator to their misfortunes is – according to the government – the disastrous plunge in oil prices. Not so, say economic analysts in Angolan and beyond. They say the drop in the price of oil simply uncovered factors that would send any business anywhere to the wall. The interruption to the flow of petrodollars made a continued cover-up of endemic corruption and incompetence impossible. All of a sudden their clandestine existence was revealed, […]

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Angolan Army Battles Trade in Stolen Guns

The Angolan authorities seem at a loss to know how to react to the discovery that more than seventy AK47 military rifles have gone missing from a security unit stationed at the Petrangol oil refinery. The shortfall was first discovered back in May at the São Pedro da Barra base in the Petrangol zone. A subsequent military investigation determined that the arms had been smuggled out one by one for sale to a private security firm. Yet, instead of facing a court martial, the man held responsible, Lieutenant Colonel Ugando Bravo, known as ‘TC Roger’, has simply been transferred to other duties. The ‘Economic Objective Protection Unit’(known by its Portuguese acronym, UPOE) was set up and stationed at the Petrangol oil refinery in Luanda in the wake of an act of sabotage by South African commandos in November 1981 which resulted in the partial destruction of the refinery. The security […]

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Diplomatic Immunity or Impunity?

Angolan diplomats may enjoy diplomatic immunity abroad – but apparently some interpret this to mean they can fiddle their expenses without any fear of punishment back home. From Brazil come reports of an Angolan diplomat siphoning off state funds for his own ends because because his family ties mean he believes himself to be exempt from any legal consequences. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, Rosário Gustavo Ferreira de Ceita, 53, justifies his diversion of funds for personal ends while boasting that he can act as he sees fit because ‘Palucha’ (Ana Paula dos Santos, the Angolan President’s wife) is his cousin. He may be confusing diplomatic immunity with impunity. Just two years into the posting, Rosário de Ceita is relying on the Angolan state budget to ease a heavier family burden than usual – he is said to have acquired three ‘wives’ and a corresponding number of children. Angola […]

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Angolan Oil Greases a Trio of Palms

At a time of prolonged economic crisis, Angola has an interesting way of prioritizing who gets first dibs on its dwindling supply of foreign exchange. Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos recently told the central committee of his ruling MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) party that the government had not received any contribution from Sonangol (the national oil company) since the beginning of the year due to the sharp decline in oil price. He added: “the income Sonangol does derive is barely enough to pay its own and the State debts.” Dos Santos admitted that this was causing a foreign exchange crisis for the National Bank of Angola, the BNA, which was only able to muster approximately US $300 million per month. That comes from receivables from foreign oil companies working in Angola, who are required to exchange their national currencies into Angolan kwanzas to pay in-country […]

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