Monday 25 September 2017

Angola: Portuguese Corruption Trial Snares Angola's Vice President

Angola: Portuguese Corruption Trial Snares Angola's Vice President
(Maka Angola 03/15/17)
Angola's Vice-President, Manuel Vicente

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 the real estate purchase, had discovered that Vicente and two other senior Angolan officials were the real figures behind the US $375 million acquisition of 24 percent of BESA's shares by a company named Portmill.

According to the indictment, the prosecutor Orlando Figueira, also breached court confidentiality by photocopying all the relevant documents and passing the information to Vicente's Portuguese lawyer, Paulo Blanco, who in turn emailed them to the Attorney General of Angola.

These latest indictments are partly the result of an investigation into a complaint arising from the publication by Maka Angola of a report entitled "The Angolan Presidency: The Epicentre of Corruption".

As its author, Rafael Marques de Morais testified to the Portuguese judicial authorities, Figueira was promptly - and illegally - sharing his testimony with the Angolan authorities.

The ongoing investigation by the Portuguese Criminal Investigation and Penal Action Department (DCIAP) has reportedly uncovered a pattern of unsecured loans by BESA which they say has incurred losses of more than US $6.8 billion. According to reports in Portugal, the recipients of these loans without collateral belonged to the Espirito Santo group, to companies linked to Álvaro Sobrinho (BESA CEO to 2012) or to firms linked to Angolan government officials.

The Besa case

The Banco Espirito Santo Angola was set up in 2002 as the Angolan subsidiary of one of Portugal's oldest and most venerable family banks, the Banco Espirito Santo (BES). Family head Ricardo Espírito Santo Salgado was the CEO who approved the deal and who personally selected Álvaro Sobrinho, a dual Portuguese-Angolan national, to head BES Angola (BESA). Sobrinho would report directly to Salgado's cousin, BESA chairman Ricardo Abecassis Espírito Santo who in turn was responsible for ensuring Salgado was fully across BESA activities.

In 2004, according to Reuters, "BES sold 19 percent of BESA to a company named Geni, controlled by Isabel dos Santos, the president's billionaire businesswoman daughter. In 2009, it sold 24 percent to Portmill".

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