A London Law Firm Won’t Stop Us Exposing Those Who Swindle Angola

My job is to investigate and expose human rights abuses and large-scale corruption in Angola. It’s not just my job – I have dedicated my life to this fight for justice in my native land. Inevitably this makes me a target for harassment by the current regime and the judicial system it controls, such as the Criminal Investigation Service (Serviço de Investigação Criminal – SIC) and the Office of Attorney-General of the Republic (Procuradoria-Geral da República – PGR). These minor irritations are part and parcel of the kind of work done by social justice activists the world over. Abroad, in Western democracies such as Portugal, people are often surprised that the Angolan government, which has been repeatedly branded as a dictatorship, doesn’t use violence to the same extent as other dictatorial regimes to silence critics. Perhaps they are unaware that extrajudicial execution is a commonplace event in Angola. I am […]

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Stealing with Presidential Decrees

When Angola’s President decreed in 2012 that the north-western enclave of Cabinda should have a deep-water port, it was heralded as a private sector deal that wouldn’t cost the Angolan state a single cent. The estimated US $540 million construction costs would be funded by private investors and banks. For once, there was no Angolan public sector involvement contemplated. That proved to be a chimera. In fact, the entire Caio Port (Porto de Caio) concept seems to have been a vanity project involving the President’s son, José Filomeno dos Santos known as Zenú and his very close friend and financial mentor, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. And sadly, the project is bleeding millions upon millions of dollars from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund controlled by Zenú. A very ‘private’ port The proposal for Cabinda’s deep water port at Caio was first announced in a 2012 presidential decree as a wholly private-sector […]

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How Much Longer, Attorney General?

How much longer, João Maria, how much longer do we have to put up with you? The Attorney General of the Republic of Angola parades through the streets of Luanda with not an ounce of shame at the conflict of interest arising from holding public office while profiting from business dealings that have come his way only because of his position. What legal and moral conflicts? He is not just a shareholder in different companies, he has also served as a manager and legal consultant (e.g. in Prestcom) in spite of the constitutional prohibition on second jobs for office-holders. Additionally, General João Maria de Sousa has neglected the fundamental and basic premise of his job: to prosecute breaches of the law. He fails to investigate legal transgressions by members of the government, turns a blind eye to incontrovertible evidence of corruption, and sits on his hands when presented with egregious […]

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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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China Chokes Angola Credit

Is China beginning to lose patience with the Angolan regime? Maka Angola has learned that the China Development Bank (CDB) has declined to make any further funds available to the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, under a US $15 billion line of credit granted in December 2015, citing Angola’s “lack of contractual compliance” and attempts to “use the money for indeterminate ends”. Sources at the Angolan Finance Ministry have revealed that US $5 billion of December’s loan was intended to cover oil production costs, leaving US $5 billion for debt refinancing. In exchange Angola would increase its cargoes of crude to China. The other US $ 5 billion are for the Finance Ministry’s use. Until recently over half of the 50-60 oil shipments out of Angola each month went to the Western oil majors who operate the oil fields and platforms that allow Angola to export 1.8 million barrels per […]

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Sonangol’s Billion Dollar Headache

The task facing Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol, as it adjusts to lower revenues during the slump in oil prices, is complicated by a stratospheric debt burden which gives little room for manoeuvre.  And yet the new administration is unexpectedly making repayment of one private debt a top priority. In spite of multiple pressing issues (including the root-and-branch restructuring of Sonangol) repayment of this particular debt has been fast-tracked by Sonangol’s new CEO, the President’s daughter Isabel dos Santos.   A source close to the Sonangol board has told Maka Angola it’s the reason why Sonangol has been seeking a loan of US $800 million from a bank based in Egypt, offering as surety its shares in the Millenium BCP division of Portugal’s largest private bank, the Commercial Bank of Portugal (BCP). The urgent repayment?  A one billion US dollar debt owed to Trafigura. This is the joint venture between the […]

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40 Years On… The Boys are Back

Shrugging off the legal challenges to her appointment as President of the Board of Director of Sonangol, the President’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, has lost no time in showing how she means to restructure the state oil company.  Her first task has been to recruit 120 Portuguese staff to senior positions. The new recruits will join a further 50 consultants – also mostly Portuguese nationals – currently working as consultants and advisers to Isabel on behalf of the Boston Consulting Group and the Portuguese law firm Vieira de Almeida, who in effect are jointly running the Angolan state firm at this point. The arrival of the Portuguese contingent to take over at the Angolan state oil company raises some interesting points:  firstly, the total absence of any national or international recruitment campaign and the lack of any attempt at dialogue between the managers and workers at Sonangol points to the same lack […]

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Chinese Couple Present Diplomas to Angolan Presidential Guards

A Chinese couple has had the honor of presenting diplomas to officers and soldiers of the Angolan Presidential Guard. The recipients of the diplomas had completed a 45-day military course at the Angolan presidency’s prestigious Chacal Instruction Center. Maka Angola obtained a lengthy video of the ceremony, which took place on August 15, 2014, during the celebrations of the ninth anniversary of the Central Detachment for Protection and Security of the Intelligence Bureau of the President (known as DCPS/CSPR).  The prominence accorded at the ceremony to Mr Wan, a construction contractor, and his love interest raises concerns about protocol within the Angolan Armed Forces and, by extension, in the presidency. No civilian authorities were in attendance at the ceremony. A snapshot of the video has been edited for public view, and this portal has asked for an expert opinion. The executive-secretary of the Intelligence Bureau of the President and commander […]

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Angolan Kleptocracy Discussed at the European Parliament

Kleptocracy in Angola and the management of its natural resources were discussed today, October 3, at the European Parliament in Brussels. The director of Maka Angola, Rafael Marques de Morais, delivered the talk. The full text of the presentation is available here. The presentation was delivered at the conference “Raw Materials: A Raw Deal for Developing Countries?”, an initiative of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. In the same panel, the executive secretary general of the European External Action of the European Commission, Pierre Vimont, presented the common perspective of the European Union. The Portuguese Member of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes, moderated the debate.

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When Corruption in Angola is Easier Than in Nigeria

It is an honor for me to be here. I thank Ambassador Lyman and the Council on Foreign Relations for the opportunity to address you this morning. During our civil wars, the government of Angola consistently pointed to corruption as the second major destructive force in the country after the civil war.  Ironically, in times of peace, corruption has become the most defining issue in governing the nation.  It is a common part of business and government relationships. It has taken root throughout our social fabric. It is so pervasive that by the end of 2009 President José Eduardo dos Santos declared a zero tolerance policy against the scourge – a sinister attempt to deflect attention to the problem and to appease his detractors. Since October last year, I set up a website [www.makaangola.org] to monitor corruption in government in the context of the country’s legal framework, and in order […]

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