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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The Self-Dealings of Sonangol’s CEO

On 20 May 2002, the chairman of the board and CEO of Sonangol, Manuel Vicente, went into partnership with Grinaker LTA International Holdings, a South African company, the Banco Africano de Investimentos (BAI), and Mário Palhares in setting up Grinaker LTA Angola – Civil Construction and Public Works. Each partner took an equal 25 percent shareholding. A few months after it was set up, Grinaker LTA Angola – Civil Construction and Public Works in partnership with the Portuguese construction company Soares da Costa, got the contract for the new Luanda headquarters of the Angolan national oil company, Sonangol: a contract worth US $83.5 million. Work started in June 2003, and the 21-storey building was opened early in 2008. The same partnership of Grinaker LTA Angola and Soares da Costa won the contract in 2006 to build the headquarters of Sonangol Exploration and Production (P&P), the operational subsidiary of the Sonangol […]

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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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Manuel Vicente’s Raid on Sonangol

In 2008, Manuel Vicente, the chairman of the board and director general of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, restructured the company’s main subsidiaries to his personal benefit. The same year, petroleum exports exceeded $62 billion, according to the World Bank: 97.7% of Angola’s exports. These figures demonstrate the crucial role of Sonangol in the country’s political economy, as the only Angolan concession-holder in the industry. Manuel Vicente did a business deal with himself when he illegally transferred a percentage of Sonangol Holding into his own name, thus making himself a formal (private) shareholder in almost all the multi-million dollar deals of a state-owned business. This move by Sonangol’s top manager must first be put into context in the light of current legislation and the MPLA’s rhetoric on the supposed zero tolerance policy towards corruption. On 30 March 2010, the President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, signed into […]

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Legal Doubts Over Thales’ Angola Deal

The head of the Angolan state oil company and the country’s ambassador to France have entered into a multi-million euro partnership with the French defense company Thales to supply communications equipment to the Angolan military. Angolan anti-corruption legislation appears to prohibit the two officials’ participation in the deal. In January 2009, the Council of Ministers of Angola awarded two contracts, worth a total of 141,6 million Euros, to a joint venture between the Thales Group and a shell Angolan company, Sadissa, for the supply of a new system of communications to the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). Thales was previously implicated in the corruption case that lead to the conviction in 2005 of a South African businessman Schabir Shaik, on charges that included soliciting a bribe from Thales on behalf of the then South African Deputy President, and now President, Jacob Zuma. The Angolan contracts, with the official references 38/DM/03/SST/08 and […]

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