MONEY FOR NOTHING (PART TWO)

Multi-billion-dollar deals between the government of Angola and the US corporate giant General Electric for showpiece rail and energy infrastructure projects are under investigation after reports of scandalous “irregularities” involving an intermediary company. As reported by Maka Angola, the projects were all part of a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by GE and the Angolan government in 2013.  Two years later, three separate contracts by which these proposals would be executed were drawn up by Aenergy (Aenergia, S.A.) acting as GE’s intermediary or “channel” partner, whose legal owner is Ricardo Leitão Machado, a Portuguese national.   This was how the former Angolan administration did business with the world.  Under President José Eduardo dos Santos, foreign investors and businesses were required to enter into partnership with the Angolan private sector.  All too often, these were companies with nominal owners shielding the involvement of politically exposed persons whose primary goal was to divert […]

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Money for Nothing

Over the past 20 years Angola has been bilked of billions of US dollars earmarked for public projects that delivered little or no actual benefit to the country.  And an investigation by Maka Angola into a long-promised revamp of the country’s railway system, suggests the government is still being conned into handing over millions of dollars on schemes that fail to materialize. OFF THE RAILS For two decades under former President dos Santos, Angola repeatedly awarded multi-million-dollar contracts for complex projects to ‘johnny-come-lately’ companies with no track record.  Invariably these were shell companies set up by Dos Santos cronies that never had the wherewithal to deliver on their promises.  It was a scam by which the state kleptocrats diverted public funds into their own bank accounts.  Under reformist President João Lourenço, things are supposed to have changed.  But have they? A two-part investigation by Maka Angola into a billion-dollar deal […]

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‘Operation Thunderclap’: At Least Five Dead in Separatist Attack on Angolan Prison

An armed attack on a prison in the north-eastern Angolan province of Lunda-Sul which resulted in the deaths of at least five people, has been blamed on a misguided attempt to free a self-styled independence leader. Responsibility for the attack is said to lie with a man calling himself “Commander Thunderclap” (*see below) who says it is the opening salvo in a liberation war for the independence of the Lundas.  The diamond-rich region comprises twin provinces – North Lunda (Norte) and South Lunda (Sul), largely inhabited by descendants of the Tchokwe nation.  It is no stranger to separatism.  Local communities have long displayed discontent with Angola’s central government.  While politicians, generals and foreign interests have carved out immense fortunes over decades, the lot of local people has not improved since colonial times, leading to simmering resentment and a growing appetite for self-rule.  Zero tolerance for separatism The Angolan authorities are […]

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Unveiling Corruption Is Indeed Donkey Work

A Forbes article once obliged Isabel dos Santos by repeating her claim that she was Africa’s richest woman: a self-made billionaire who said she began her mercurial business career by selling eggs in the street on her way to school.  Perhaps she did sell eggs, once upon a time though knowing the origins of her later seed capital does make you wonder who it was that owned the hens.  And I can guarantee there was no egg selling in the streets around Brook Green, London when the daughter of Angola’s then President was attending the US$ 15,000 a year fee-paying St. Paul’s Girls School.   Isabel has an affinity for the British capital which is a favoured destination for the world’s money launderers. With her husband Sindiko Dokolo, she owns (via a shell company) at least one multi-million-dollar property in an exclusive gated community in the Royal Borough of Kensington […]

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Angola’s San Community under Threat from Burning Forests

In many parts of Angola the end of the cooler, dry season known as ‘cacimbo’ is traditionally the right time for burning brush. Fire clears the land ready for planting ahead of the rainy season, produces the charcoal on which many families still depend for their cooking fuel, and sends wildlife into the path of hunters. But unregulated and uncontrolled, this practise is one of the major factors leading to widespread deforestation in the most remote southeastern corner of Angola, where hundreds of kilometres of virgin forest are on fire, threatening the very existence of the San people. The San, dubbed “Bushmen” by the European colonizers of the region, are the descendants of some of the most ancient peoples on Earth. Their forefathers have roamed the southern African forests for tens of thousands of years. To this day the San communities follow their ancestors’ tradition of living in harmony with […]

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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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