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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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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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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Trafigura and the Angolan Presidential Mafia

In two years of operations in Angola, Pumangol has become a leading player in the marketing of Angolan oil, as well as in the distribution of oil products in the country. This company is a joint venture between multinational Puma Energy, a subsidiary of Swiss based company Trafigura, and its Angolan counterpart Cochan. In August 2010, President José Eduardo dos Santos authorized a total of five investment contracts worth US$ 931 million, by multinational Puma Energy and its Angolan partner Cochan. In  a country ranked among the 15 worst in the world to do business, the rapid success of Trafigura and its subsidiary Pumangol  is, by its own right, a case study and one for an in-depth investigation into its dealings with the presidential inner circle. The Geneva-based company benefits of a swap contract with Sonangol. Trafigura receives Angolan crude oil (in unknown quantities) in exchange for delivering all petroleum […]

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Manuel Vicente: Transparently Corrupt

By Ana Silva   The scheduling of Election Day on August 31 casts a new light on the recent press conference that presented the Performance Report on Executive Activity for the first quarter of 2012. Manuel Vicente, Minister of State for Economic Coordination, lavished detailed praise on the government’s economic advances during his presentation to the media. He referred to newly constructed factories, schools and social housing, as well as investments in transportation infrastructure, and highlighted the launch of provincial radio broadcasters and regional television stations. The minister’s account may have led casual observers to believe that Angola is enjoying a period of true social and economic progress. The country’s economic growth is unequalled, thanks above all to the rise in oil production and prices on the international market. Yet the scene that Vicente described left out the vast majority of Angola’s population, which continues to live in abject misery, […]

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Kero: Manuel Vicente Goes Shopping with State Money

The Kero hypermarket, probably the biggest in Angola, might be considered a model of private investment due to the way it has improved the range, and quality of consumer goods available in the country. But it has also proved to be a model example of how Angola’s top officials continue to ignore the distinction between public and private property and have turned themselves into the country’s top entrepreneurs. Kero has been operating for a year, in Luanda’s Nova Vida suburb. In an interview with the weekly paper O País, Kero’s Brazilian Director-General, João Santos, revealed how much MONEY had been invested by a group of Angolan businessmen in partnership with Banco Privado Atlântico: “The US$35 million is a combination of private capital and resources freed up by the partnership with Atlântico.” The hypermarket occupies a surface area of 7,500 square metres and a total area of 11,000 square metres. A […]

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The ill-gotten gains behind the Kilamba housing development

Since last July, thousands of Angolan citizens living in Luanda have been making desperate efforts to acquire state-funded public housing apartments in the Kilamba development. The private real estate company hired to sell the apartments and funded by the state, Delta Imobiliária, charges prices ranging from US$125,000 to US$200,000 per apartment. These unaffordable prices, and the disclosure of the names of Delta Imobiliaria’s shareholders, reveal yet another corruption scandal. Contrary to the government’s established ceiling prices for state-funded social housing, Delta is overpricing the units by two to three times. On 5 August 2010, the President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, announced that struggling Angolan families would be able to buy state funded social housing for a maximum price of US$60,000 per unit. He made the announcement during his speech at the meeting of the National Program for Social Housing, held at the presidential palace. In the run […]

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The Angolan Presidency: the Epicentre of Corruption

This report shows how the Presidency of the Republic of Angola has become the site of shady business deals, a fact that has consequences for citizens’ freedom and development, as well as for the country’s political and economic stability. The text responds President José Eduardo dos Santos’s call, on 21 November 2009, for a zero tolerance policy against corruption. For the sake of clarity, this investigation limits itself to a small demonstration of the business practices employed by the minister of State and head of the Military Bureau (Casa Militar) in the Presidency, General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa”. This is the man responsible for co-ordinating the defence and security sectors of the state. General Kopelipa is one of the triumvirate that today dominates Angola’s political economy, along with General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino”, the presidency’s head of telecommunications, and Manuel Vicente, the chairman and CEO of the […]

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President’s Three Henchmen Lead the Plunder of State Assets

In his latest report, “The Angolan Presidency: The Epicentre of Corruption”, Angolan journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais focuses on the illicit business links of a powerful triumvirate of officials close to President José Eduardo dos Santos. These officials are the head of the Military Bureau of the Presidency, the head of Telecommunications at the Presidency, and the CEO and chair of national oil company Sonangol, respectively General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa”, General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, and Manuel Vicente. “Their dealings acknowledge no distinction between public and private affairs, and this has allowed them to channel millions of dollars worth of state assets into their own private businesses,” Marques de Morais says. One of the tools used by these officials for their private operations, according to the report, is the power and the international reputation of Sonangol as well as their influence on the […]

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