Repairing Angola’s Central Bank

In the wake of recent revelations of mismanagement and corruption at the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), its Governor, José de Lima Massano, took to the airwaves in an attempt to defend his reputation and that of the bank. It was all to no avail, because many high-ranking officials have taken to heart the new Angolan President’s strictures against corruption and are willing to blow the whistle, backing up their claims with documentary proof. It’s evidence that should prompt the Attorney-General’s office to open an investigation. Maka Angola has been given a copy of the contract signed in 2013 for the rehabilitation of the central bank’s historic main building, signed by Massano during his first stint at BNA governor. As with other projects (like the much-derided Currency Museum), he hired the Angolan subsidiary of the Portuguese construction firm Somague to do the work. Somague stands accused of routinely padding costs […]

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Angola’s Path to Justice: Prosecuting the Guilty and Recovering the Stolen Billions

The dramatic recent arrests of high-ranking figures linked to former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has gripped the public. Yet little or nothing has been revealed about the struggle to recover the billions of dollars stolen from the public purse during Dos Santos’s corrupt regime. Extensive whistleblower reports published by Maka Angola have led to numerous investigations and prosecutions across the globe to bring to justice all those who illicitly enriched themselves during the Dos Santos years. But efforts to repatriate the missing billions have been complicated by the tortuous schemes devised by the principals to obscure the money trail. One such example: Back in 2009, an Angolan company named Portmill Investimentos e Telecomunicações S.A. allegedly committed fraud in its acquisition of a majority shareholding in the Banco de Espírito Santo Angola (BESA). BESA was the Angolan subisdiary of one of Portugal’s oldest private banks, the Banco de Espírito […]

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Sums Don’t Add up for Angolan Central Bank

Angola’s central bank, the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) has failed to produce its accounts for the second year running, with the current BNA Governor, José de Lima Massano, forced to issue a written explanation to the Angolan President. In so doing, Massano has brought to light a convoluted financial arrangement, sanctioned by one of his predecessors, in which the BNA unlawfully acted as guarantor for a US $200 million foreign loan for a private bank, the Banco de Negócios Internacional (BNI). Angola’s Banking Laws authorize the BNA to intervene to help a private bank only as a lender of last resort to inject liquidity during a temporary crisis, and only on condition that the private bank has sufficient collateral in non-liquid assets. The BNI case did not meet the criteria on any count. It is further alleged that the loan was obtained under false pretences, and that the BNI […]

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Angola’s Attorney General “Sorry for Mistake” in Accusing Army Chief

Recently, the office of the Attorney General publicly named the Chief of Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, a formal suspect for criminal association.  More specifically, General Nunda was implicated in a US $50 billion scam led by a Thai businessman.  However, the Attorney General later apologized for the “mistake”.  The bungle has deeply troubled the Army and the judiciary, and has cast a shadow on President Lourenço’s anti-corruption drive.   When General Hélder Fernando Pitta Grós was appointed to the office of Attorney General of the Republic by Angola’s new President, João Lourenço, in December 2017, public opinion was divided. On the one hand, there was disappointment that yet again a military figure would occupy what should be a civilian position. On the other, there was optimism that, after ten years under the jackboot of the truculent and controversial Dos Santos-appointee, General João Maria de Sousa, the country’s […]

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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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Isabel dos Santos and the Right of Reply

Isabel dos Santos, self-described ‘African billionaire businesswoman’ and head of the Angolan national oil company, Sonangol, (appointed by her father, the President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos) was clearly rattled by the report published here on Maka Angola last week, entitled ‘Sonangol’s Slush Fund Salaries’ and has sent an official response. Maka Angola is delighted to afford the Sonangol President the right of reply. Sonangol’s ‘Official Reaction’ states (without offering proof) that the report was incorrect. And yet, instead of supplying alternative data, the response serves to confirm the inside information supplied to Maka Angola. (1) Sonangol’s whistleblowers reported elevated salaries for the board. And outrageous expenses and consultancy fees for a cabal of Portuguese nationals, effected overseas to avoid paying Angolan tax. The President’s daughter confirms that fees for the board of directors were raised to keep pace with inflation – in effect at the very least a […]

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Sonangol’s Slush-Fund Salary Payments

Concerns over the mal-administration of the Angolan oil giant, Sonangol, continue to multiply, as the country’s prime source of foreign income haemorrhages millions of dollars on foreign (mainly Portuguese) ‘consultants’ close to the President’s daughter while defaulting on essential payments. Isabel dos Santos, appointed by her father to run Sonangol last June, maintains the PR fiction that her objectives are to “raise transparency” and “improve management practise” at the state-owned petroleum giant. Why then does the lady who likes to call herself “Africa’s first female billionaire” insist on secrecy over the remuneration of her board and the more than 60 Portuguese consultants she has hired? And why are these foreign consultants working inside Angola on tourist visas? Insiders say Isabel’s board and administration are not paid according to the agreed salary scale at Sonangol and so are not on the official payroll. Instead, their elevated payments come directly from a […]

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Sonangol’s Billion-Dollar Headache

Evidence has reached Maka Angola that Sonangol’s debts to major oil corporations are far in excess of the US $300 million  owed to Chevron as reported last month. Faced with a Sonangol news release that noted the Chevron monies were “under review” prior to payment, other foreign creditors have grown anxious about the multi-million sums they too are owed. Maka Angola has been supplied with figures showing unpaid cash calls to three other oil majors operating in the Angolan oilfields. They reveal that as of October 2016, Sonangol owed its creditors at over one billion US dollars. To date, Sonangol has only effected payments to companies owned by associates of President José Eduardo dos Santos and his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, the current Sonangol President. President dos Santos sacked the previous Sonangol board and installed his daughter back in June, in a move that shocked the global oil industry given […]

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Angola’s Greatest Work of Fiction: The Budget

A much-lauded cartoon by Angola’s premier pictorial satirist Sérgio Piçarra recently depicted the state of the country’s economy, thanks to José Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s President for the past 37 years. In his depiction, Angola has a ‘Real Economy’, and a ‘Virtual Economy’, but there is an even third one, the ‘Fictitious Economy’. It’s a reflection of a truth: every year the Angolan state budget (Orçamento Geral de Estado) is a mixture of the actual (real), anticipated (virtual) and the ‘only on paper’ (fictitious) spending for the year ahead. Now insiders say the 2017 Budget strays even further from reality than usual. One example: Angola expects to spend more than 1.7 billion kwanzas (US $6.5 million) on maintenance of the memorial to Agostinho Neto, the country’s first post-independence president. The Soviet Union undertook the initial construction of the memorial. However, with the collapse of the USSR, the construction remained […]

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Isabel Spells Danger for Angolan Banks

When the United States warns of the risks of handing control of Angola’s banks to politically exposed people (i.e. President José Eduardo dos Santos, his family members, and the Generals who back him), this is not an idle warning. It’s because the USA know the President is planning to transfer control over the BFA (Banco de Fomento Angola) to his daughter, Isabel, and that once he does so, the Presidential group’s control over almost the entire Angolan banking system will be in place. How so? According to African Business Magazine’s list of Africa’s Top 100 Banks in 2015, the five largest banks in Angola were: Banco Económico (BE – Economic Bank), Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI – Angolan Investment Bank), Banco de Poupança e Crédito (The Savings and Credit Bank), Banco de Fomento de Angola (BFA – Development Bank of Angola) and Banco BIC (BIC – The International Credit Bank). […]

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