Audit Court in Leadership Crisis

Following Maka Angola’s report on Audit Court President Exalgina Gambôa’s US$4 million dollar spend on home décor for her government-gifted US$4 million dollar private residence, evidence has emerged of anger and disbelief amid the Audit Court Plenary Advisory Judges who were rushed into approving, without proper scrutiny, the Court’s annual accounts.  The whole process appears to have been crafted to obscure evidence that without due authorization Exalgina Gambôa had far exceeded the amounts for magisterial perquisites permitted by law, and in so doing had committed a crime and brought the Audit Court into disrepute. A scathing letter from Elisa Rangel Nunes, President of the Second Chamber of the Audit Court, dated June 22nd, expresses her dismay that an institution, “defined in the Angolan Constitution as the body that sits at the apex of supervision and control of public spending” has been irredeemably tarnished by its most senior official whose corrupt […]

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Angola’s Fight Against Corruption Falters Again

In the week that the International Red Cross launched an eight-million-dollar appeal to help feed the starving population of drought-ridden southern Angola, the Angolan Audit Court (the equivalent of the National Audit Office) is due to rule on the legality of a highly controversial government property purchase worth more than ten times that amount. Maka Angola was tipped off in November last year that the Angolan Minister of Transport had agreed on behalf of the government, to buy property from a lifelong friend at an inflated amount in what gave the appearance of both a conflict of interest and an attempt to defraud the public purse. The Welwitschia Business Centre and Chicala buildings had been on the market for several years at a lower price when Transport Minister Ricardo Veiga D’Abreu (in the photo) stepped in to offer his childhood friend Rui Óscar Ferreira Santos Van-Dúnem a staggering 91-million-dollars[1] to […]

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Chairman of Angola’s Bank BAI Accused of Misappropriation of State Assets 

Allegations of corruption have re-surfaced against the head of Angola’s largest private bank, the BAI (Banco Angolano de Investimentos),after a formal criminal complaint against Board Chair José Carlos de Castro Paiva was lodged with the Angolan Attorney-General on Monday.  Paiva is alleged to have diverted state assets worth millions of US dollars into private shell companies and bank accounts, to benefit himself and others linked to the discredited former President, José Eduardo dos Santos. The formal complaint, citing instances of Paiva’s alleged money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds, was submitted by investigative journalist Rafael Marques and sociologist Tânia de Carvalho, to demand the Office of the Attorney-General launch a comprehensive investigation. Previous allegations against Paiva have not been followed up in Angola.  Alleged to have been one of the key facilitators of the wholesale looting of public money by the former Angolan regime, Paiva joined the state oil […]

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Who’s the Daddy Now?

Spare a thought for the sons and daughters of crooked Presidents.  Growing up as pampered princes and princesses, educated at the finest private schools at home or abroad, groomed to head up multi-million-dollar business empires and succeed the founder of the dynasty into unimaginable power and riches, these heirs apparently believe they are untouchable. For as long as daddy is President, his dynasty believe themselves to have total impunity from investigation and prosecution… but when his power wanes, that delusion can be cruelly shattered and like any spoiled child, in utter shock and disbelief that there may be consequences for their actions, the brat stamps their foot and bawls: “IT’S NOT FAIR!” Step forward Isabel dos Santos, the favourite daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, the former President of Angola, now revealed as the chief Kleptocrat of a corrupt regime that for nearly four decades treated the national treasury as […]

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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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Calling the Kleptocrats to Account

After more than four decades of official silence, Angola’s dirty secrets are being swept from under the carpet. Officially-sanctioned news reports denouncing specific cases of corruption in high places have mushroomed in a matter of months. People once thought to be untouchable are under investigation or already face criminal charges. José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenú), and his business associate Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais have been charged with misappropriating $500 million US dollars from the $5 billion US dollar Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund. The fate of the rest of the fund has yet to be determined. Zenú’s elder sister, Isabel dos Santos, is alleged to have built a billion-dollar business empire based on nepotism and ‘loans’ of public money that have never been repaid. The evidence now emerging confirms the endemic corruption that Maka Angola has been reporting for years. There is, of course, a common denominator in the scandals involving […]

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A Cautionary Tale for Foreign Investors in Angola

It may have looked like ‘easy pickings’. The property market in Angola was booming: extreme shortages of decent housing in the face of overwhelming demand (especially in the capital, Luanda) meant that hotel rates and rents had soared to become the highest of any city in the world. For non-Angolans with capital to invest, offers of bonds and equity in joint-venture companies promising a multi-million dollar portfolio of properties with guaranteed monthly income, seemed a sure-fire prospect. But as with any investment that offers a high return, there is often high risk. And nowhere more so than when dealing with the kleptocracy that ruled Angola for four decades. As ongoing lawsuits in both Angola and the USA have shown, it is all too easy for well-connected Angolans to swindle their foreign partners, and get away with it. Just ask Africa Growth Corporation (known by its acronyms AGC* or AFCO) (*See […]

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Flying in the Face of Justice

Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, the Swiss-Angolan ‘businessman’ who is accused of masterminding a conspiracy to defraud the Angolan Republic of untold millions of dollars, is enjoying life as a free man in Angola, despite being the subject of police investigations and criminal and civil lawsuits in several countries. Why, when he faces such serious criminal and civil charges in connection with his (mis)management of US $3 billion of the Angolan sovereign wealth fund and alleged fraud and money-laundering, is Mr. Bastos de Morais at liberty to continue to run the Banco Kwanza Invest (BKI) and the controversial project to build and run the Caio deep sea port project in Cabinda province? He is said to have amassed an enormous fortune largely thanks to his association with one of the sons of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos: José Filomeno, nicknamed Zenú. In one of his many acts of outright […]

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The Angolan Sovereign Fund and the Arch-Fraudster

When historians come to write the unexpurgated story of corruption in Angola, the chapter on how dual Swiss-Angolan national Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais enriched himself from the Angolan Sovereign Fund is sure to be a page-turner. Bastos de Morais is the silent partner of the former Sovereign Fund’s chairman, José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenú), the hitherto-untouchable son of former President José Eduardo dos Santos who turned Angola into a kleptocracy during 38 years in power. The US $5 billion Sovereign Fund was created to stimulate economic diversity – a hedge against the future when Angola’s rich oil reserves run out. Zenú and his buddy Jean-Claude are alleged to have treated the Sovereign Fund as their personal piggy bank and both face charges of fraud and money-laundering. Zenú’s father used also set up the Angolan Venture Capital Fund (in Portuguese: Fundo Activo de Capital de Risco Angolano, FACRA) in 2012. Under […]

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Prosecuting the Messenger, Absolving the Corrupt

Angola’s public prosecutor, Pedro Pederneira, calls for my conviction for the crimes of insulting a public authority and speaking against the state security (June 15). He wants me in jail for writing that former President José Eduardo dos Santos protected the corrupt. This is the crime against the state security. The public prosecution office recently charged Dos Santos’ son, José Filomeno dos Santos, and his accomplices for the looting of US $500 million from Angola’s central bank. The looting had been authorized by the father weeks before he stepped down in September last year. Last January, I was the very first to expose the whole scam at home. So, where is the crime against the state security? I supplied the court with plenty of evidence on past cases in which Mr. Dos Santos engaged and protected the corrupt, and the then-attorney general never replied to many of my formal complaints […]

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