Brewing Discontent Within the Intelligence and Security Services

Operatives from the State Intelligence and Security Service (SINSE) recently addressed a letter to President José Eduardo dos Santos, in which it gave an account of the increasing levels of discouragement among their ranks, due to a lack of leadership and poor working conditions. SINSE has a budget of KZ 66.6 billion (US$695 million) for the current year. Funds were also fairly generous in previous years. However, the distribution of much of these funds remains a mystery to the operatives. In the confidential correspondence sent to the President, SINSE operatives request that José Eduardo dos Santos agrees to attend a meeting with them, so that they can explain their grievances and the institutional impediments preventing them from doing their work. In advance, SINSE officials reveal that the current head of the institution, Sebastião Martins, rarely comes to the office, and when he does, he lacks motivation and authority. Last October, […]

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Corruption in Angola, Money-Laundering in Portugal and the Impact on Human Rights

Rather than addressing corruption in Africa in general, this brief paper focuses on a particular case study, Angola. The rationale for this analysis lies in the paradoxical combination of the following factors: for the past decade, the country has had the fastest growing economy in the world; it is the third-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa; it ranks among the most corrupt regimes worldwide and has some of the lowest levels of human development. In recent years, the national oil company Sonangol and Politically Exposed Persons (PEP’s) have invested billions of euros in the European Union, particularly in Portugal. On February 14, the National Assembly passed Angola’s 2013 state budget – the largest ever, to the tune of US $69 billion. This unprecedented budget and the country’s steady economic growth have the potential to transform the lives of Angolans. It is estimated that two-thirds of the 19 million Angolans still live […]

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Goats Tethering at Sonangol

For Christmas gifts to its board of directors, the National Oil Company Sonangol allocated a total budget of US $2.2 million. Watches, luggage and other extravagant accessories by luxury brands such as Cartier, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, among others, were part of the range of gifts that the seven executive and four non-executive board members had at their disposal. These gifts were to be exchanged between them, and to be used to reward selected members of the government. Besides the CEO of Sonangol, Francisco de Lemos José Maria, the other executive directors are Anabela de Brito Fonseca, Baptista Sumbe, Fernando Roberto, Sebastião Gaspar Martins, Mateus Morais de Brito and Raquel David Vunge. The non-executive directors are Albina Assis Africano, André Lello, José Gime and José Paiva. When all is added up, each director had US $250,000 to spend on luxury goods. Local analysts welcomed the appointment of Francisco de […]

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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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Oil Workers in Prison for Striking

The 15 Angolan oil workers who went on strike aboard the oil vessel FPSO Gimboa, on October 3, to demand better working conditions, were questioned yesterday and today by the public prosecution in the oil-rich coastal town of Soyo, in the north of Angola. The workers are under arrest and are yet to be charged. The vessel, a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit, has been producing and storing crude from Bloc 4/05. This block is a joint-venture between Sonangol Pesquisa & Produção (50 percent), the Norwegian multinational Statoil (20 percent), and private Angolan companies belonging to government officials and Sonangol executives, Somoil (15 percent) and ACREP (15 percent). A special operation comprising members of the Rapid Intervention Police, Anti-Riot Unit, state security and the investigation police landed, last Sunday, on the oil vessel to put down the strike, and arrested the workers. The strikers’ union representative, Joaquim Domingos, […]

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BAI: The Regime’s Banking Laundromat

In recent years, the Angolan financial market has been led by Banco Africano de Investimentos – BAI (African Investment Bank), a banking institution previously named Banco Angolano de Investimentos (Angolan Investment Bank). To a certain extent, the shareholding structure of the bank reflects its success as well as the institutionalization of public assets’ transfer to public officials, for their illicit enrichment. Praised at US $8 billion, BAI currently holds a portfolio of deposits and credits estimated, by the Angolan National Bank, at US $10.4 billion and US $3.2 billion, respectively. At its inception, in 1996, Sonangol was BAI’s main investor, with 18.5 percent of its shares. Over the years, Sonangol quietly transferred 10 percent of its shares to the private ownership of high-ranking officials, besides the ones who, from the start, already owned considerable shares of the banks stock. By way of illustration, the table below shows only the list […]

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Hotel Talatona and the Scavangeing of Sonangol

The Talatona Convention Centre (CCTA) is one example of the large-scale investments that Sonangol, the state oil company, has been making in Angola in order to diversify its activity beyond the petroleum sector. At a cost of $149.1 million, the centre includes a five-star hotel called the Tatalona Convention Hotel (HCTA), which was opened on 18 December 2009 by president José Eduardo dos Santos. Sonangol’s investments outside of the oil sector have served as the most effective mean to divert hundreds of millions in public funds to an inner circle of senior government officials and company directors. CCTA is only one of these schemes. On 8 November 2006, Sonangol set up CCTA in partnership with the Angolan private companies Simaroco and Oil International Supply Services S.A. (OISS). This happened six months after the opening of the $60 million convention centre by the then vice-president Fernando Dias dos Santos. On the […]

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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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Sonangol’s Hotel Bills don’t Add Up

The national oil company Sonangol, which is the largest state-owned company, has been regarded internationally as an oasis of competence and good management practice in Angola. At the same time, Sonangol has also been accused from abroad of being the main vehicle for the looting and disappearance of billions of dollars in oil revenues. However, Angolans themselves need to pay closer scrutiny to the current management of Sonangol, which supplies about half of the funds that make up the country’s annual state budget. In 2010, Sonangol picked up a bill of over US $1 million for nine days’ worth of accommodation and expenses at the Suite Hotel Maianga in Luanda. The hotel bills (see the table) amounting to US $1,346,022.50 were paid through Banco Africano de Investimentos (BAI), of which Sonangol is the main shareholder, with an 18.5 percent share. The three-star hotel has 54 rooms including two executive suites […]

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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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