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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Angola: When the Wolves can Dance with the Goats

This is an edited version of the presentation made at the Conference: A Celebration of Mandela’s Legacy and a Reflection on Democracy and Good Governance in Africa.   I am honored to return to the European Parliament as a guest of the Socialists and Democrats Group, for Africa Week. This meeting is special – it coincides with the centenary of the birth of one of Africa’s most celebrated leaders, Nelson Mandela. So it is a fitting day on which we take the opportunity to pay homage to his wise legacy and share our views on democracy and good governance. In Africa, what counts as democracy and good governance? The definition of these two concepts has spawned many political arguments – not to mention an entire industry of scholarship. In homage to Mandela, and with regard to the relationship between rulers and the ruled on the African continent, allow me to […]

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Angola’s ‘Money Pit’ Currency Museum

The Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), the country’s central bank, is housed in one of the prettiest colonial buildings that the capital city has to offer: a confection of Portuguese colonial construction in pink and white, consisting of two colonnaded wings which meet at a circular tower topped by a distinctive red-tiled cupola. The ‘wedding cake’, completed in 1956, occupies an entire block of Luanda’s Marginal, the gently-curving and tree-lined avenue which runs the length of the picturesque bay. Buried in the paved pedestrian square alongside the bank, some meters beneath an elaborate winged structure, is one of the city’s lesser known museums: the subterranean ‘Museu da Moeda’ (the Currency Museum). Opened in 2016, it may only have a single below-ground exhibition room with exhibits of dubious worth but this museum is worthy of a little more attention than it has received so far. The Currency Museum project, which began […]

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Temporary Reprieve, or Pyrrhic Victory?

Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais – an indicted swindler connected to the former kleptocratic regime in Angola, accused of the brazen theft of untold millions of dollars of public money – has obtained a temporary victory in his legal battles. An attempt by lawyers representing the Angolan government to prevent Bastos de Morais from continuing to access the US $5 billion dollar Angolan Sovereign Fund, was not upheld by the courts in London, UK due to their failure to produce the required documentation in time. The effect is to allow Bastos de Morais, who is already facing charges for embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, to regain access to hundreds more. Blame for this procedural mishap is reputedly down to ineptitude by Angola’s new government, possibly related to the ruling party’s desire to protect the former President. The word in London is that Luanda is […]

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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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The Empress Has no Clothes

Isabel dos Santos is the woman who once boasted to Forbes magazine that she was Africa’s first female billionaire. Although Angolans knew she owed her fortune to nepotism and wholesale theft from the public purse, Isabel wove an image of herself as an astute global entrepreneur. But her reputation began to unravel along with her business empire after her father José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down as President of Angola last year. As President, Dos Santos had funnelled millions of dollars from the state oil company Sonangol to ‘loans’ to bankroll her businesses. Then, before leaving office, he installed Isabel as the head of Sonangol. The effect was catastrophic. The new President marshalled the evidence and ensured his own position was sufficiently secure before acting. First, Isabel was sacked as the head of Sonangol. Then she was removed, step by step, from each of the lucrative contracts or positions awarded […]

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Stealing from Angola’s Sovereign Fund Was This Easy

Angola’s national bank seems to have been looking the other way when the President’s son and his friend used a bank and several ‘shell’ companies to steal US $100 million, one of many schemes they put in place to loot Angola’s Sovereign Fund. As everyone now knows, then-President José Eduardo dos Santos put his son, José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenú) in charge of Angola’s Sovereign Fund. In turn, Zenú put his close friend and business associate, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, in charge of managing the Sovereign Fund monies. The two already face charges of theft and money-laundering in connection with an attempted $250 million dollar embezzlement from the Sovereign Fund. One by one, more instances of their criminal conspiracy to defraud the Angolan public purse continue to emerge. Three years ago, Maka Angola learned that the equivalent of USD $100 million had been transferred out of Angola’s Sovereign Fund on […]

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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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