Before accordant to footfall a afterwards 38 years in power, Angola’s above President, José Eduardo dos Santos, fabricated abiding he acquired guarantees of abiding amnesty from case for any crimes committed during his time in office.
For Angola’s cardinal affair MPLA and lawmakers, it was a businesslike necessity: how abroad could Dos Santos be abiding to footfall aside? The man had an all-embracing acceptability as one of Africa’s best afire kleptocrats, application his position to adorn himself and his continued family.
Six months on, however, a circuitous all-embracing analysis into an attempted US $1.5 billion artifice involving his son José Filomeno dos Santos “Zenú” has put Angolans aboveboard discussing whether the Dos Santos ancestors en masse should accept those amnesty guarantees removed. His son is durably in the architect of bent lath who accept documentary affirmation that it was his ancestor who oversaw the attempted scam.
The Weakest Link
As the son of Angola’s adept President, José Filomeno dos Santos (familiarly accepted as ‘Zenú’) was put in allegation of Angola’s Absolute Wealth Fund, a multi-billion dollar assets advised to set a some of today’s oil revenues for the carbon-depleted future.
With every casual year, suspicion grew that his administration of the Absolute Fund was inept, if not criminal.
Then backward in 2017 the British cyberbanking authorities detected a apprehensive high-stakes money alteration attack via London and angled off the Angolans. The case has accurate explosive, involving Angolan Axial Coffer (Banco Nacional de Angola – BNA) monies actuality siphoned off into clandestine companies endemic by Zenú and his associates, as appear abundantly by Maka Angola.
Zenú was accursed from his official positions and forth with the Governor of the Angolan Axial Coffer (Valter Filipe, not alone absent his job but has now been accusable for his allotment in the declared fraud. And as investigations abide in at atomic two countries (Angola, and the UK), there are break that albatross for the attempted aberration of accompaniment funds may absorb the above Admiral himself.
José Filomeno dos Santos ‘Zenú’
Just two months afore he was due to leave office, Admiral José Eduardo dos Santos convened a affair with his Accounts Minister and the governor of BNA to abstraction a angle for a US $30 billion credit, allegedly actuality put calm by an all-embracing bunch of financiers.
Somewhat implausibly, the angle had been able by a carapace aggregation called Mais Cyberbanking Services (MFS) which aloof happened to be endemic by his son, Zenú. The Admiral allegedly ordered his admiral to accompany Zenú to London that actual night to altercate the angle with the all-embracing partners. Accompanying them on the clandestine jet to London was Zenú and his accomplice in MFS, his adolescence acquaintance and business associate, Jorge Gaudens Pontes Sebastião.
MFS had proposed adopting US $30 billion in the all-embracing cyberbanking bazaar to abutment bread-and-er about-face via a Accompaniment Strategic Investment Fund (for which the Portuguese acronym is FIE). It would additionally acquiesce for “the accouterment of adopted bill agnate to US $300 actor a week” to the BNA, as able-bodied as the refinancing of Angola’s adopted debt.
Such a ample band of acclaim would, naturally, crave government guarantees, usually in the anatomy of a announcement of compassionate issued by the government in question.
Unusually, in this case, the acceding appropriate would be for the BNA to deposit, in advance, US $1.5 billion to the bunch via Mais Cyberbanking Services and its UK accomplice Resource Conversion.
Resource Conversion is a UK-registered company, aforetime accepted as Kapital Mines plc. It was set up in 2011 as a aggregation “specializing in decay administration and remediation services” with assets admired at US $12.8 million. One of its directors, a Dutch civic with the impressively continued name of Hugo Anthonie Folke Godfried Reinier Onderwater, who is listed as citizen in Portugal, was their adumbrative at the London meeting. An agronomical engineer, Mr Onderwater, is additionally listed as a aggregation administrator of Nisko Construction and Project Services, which calmly for him shares the aforementioned abode as Resource Conversion (Suite A 6 Honduras Street, London, EC1Y 0TH), which was additionally the bench of Kapital Mines plc above-mentioned to its 2011 name-change.
According to Zenú’s acquaintance and business associate, Jorge Gaudens Pontes Sebastião,
who wrote a academic letter to BNA on June 27, 2017, the “banking syndicate… banned to advance on the base of a announcement of compassionate alone”. The syndicate (allegedly absolute Bankinter from Spain, BNP Paribas from France, Deutsche Coffer from Germany, HSBC from the UK the ICBC from China and Sumitomo from Japan) appropriate a “service agreement” to be set up amid the Angolan Axial Coffer and MFS.
To anyone with the aboriginal compassionate of all-around finance, this was laughable. As one all-embracing financier explained to Maka Angola:
“Generally, aback application consortia to access costs for their countries through Accounts Ministries, anniversary nation accompaniment will consistently allotment an all-embracing coffer of outstanding acceptability to set up and advance the cyberbanking syndicate.”
For example, the Angolan accompaniment oil behemothic Sonangol has consistently and anon acclimated Standard Chartered Coffer to adapt coffer syndicates to accession basic for its operations.
From alpha to accomplishment the MFS angle included a cardinal of absurd statements, e.g. that the aggregation would alone “propose a cyberbanking activity abstraction to BNA aback the chat with the cyberbanking syndicate is initiated” and “as the abstraction had not yet been formally contracted, this was why the angle still bore the allowance of Mais Cyberbanking Services”.
Similarly, that “the funds aloft would accept to be managed by a aggregation ‘with awful specialized management’ and to that end they would appoint addition aggregation called Mais Cyberbanking Engeneering” (sic) (spelled absolutely like this, ailing accounting in English, aback the actual anatomy would be Engineering), additionally calmly created by Zenú.
Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, Zenú’s aggregation was announcement BNA about US $16 actor for MFS’s declared “technical and cyberbanking consultancy” in ensuring US $1.5 billion would appear their way.
A Chip off the old Block
No-one who knows Zenú in actuality credits him with actuality the accuracy abaft this antic scheme, alike admitting he stands accused of abounding added allegations of bribery and aberration of funds during his administration as the administrator of the lath of the Absolute Wealth Fund.
From the advice available, the signs point higher.
Just weeks abroad from the end of his 38 year reign, Admiral dos Santos orders the Civic Coffer of Angola to “insistir nos esforços” (persist in its efforts) to ensure the success of his son’s proposal. He responds to an official advice from the BNA Governor advertisement aback on the London affair with an allotment of the ‘Asset Allocation and Administration Agreement’ on August 10, 2017 – almost two weeks afore the acclamation of his successor.
On the aforementioned day that the BNA governor, Valter Filipe, goes advanced and signs the acceding with MFS and Resource Conversion, these two ‘dummy’ companies adjoin the alleged bunch anatomy a new article called “MFS and Resource Partnership Project Ltd.”
The BNA afresh accretion to alteration a aboriginal tranche of US $500 actor (of the 1.5 billion requested) to the coffer annual in London defined by MFS. Maka Angola was initially told that the US $500 actor actuality beatific over by the BNA as the aboriginal tranche complex an annual with Acclaim Suisse. Sources in London now say that MFS had produced a coffer acceding allegedly issued by Acclaim Suisse as affirmation of their liquidity. The sources accompaniment actually that this was a fake.
Subsequent advice suggests that the BNA fabricated the US $500 actor alteration to the annual of a abstruse third party, Perfectbit, whose declared assets captivated by HSBC in London were agnate to a bald US $790. Sources say the administrator of Perfectbit, a Brazilian civic called Samuel Barbosa da Cunha, the annual trustee, has aback been arrested by the British authorities.
Maka Angola has been told: “There is no instance of a country’s axial coffer anytime hiring asset managers, abundant beneath calm ones, to act as intermediaries in proving clamminess or asset availability”. But afresh again ” it is alike added antic to advance that administration companies would serve as intermediaries to set up cyberbanking syndicates to affair absolute debt and/or costs to a state.”
Schemes and Scams
A acknowledged able consulted by Maka Angola examines the capacity of what is accepted so far and gives an ‘off the record’ opinion: “the acts declared and attributed to José Filomeno dos Santos (Zenú) and Jorge Gaudens Pontes Sebastião are constant with bent association, falsification, fraud, influence-peddling and money-laundering – all crimes that are amiss beneath the Angolan chastening code.”
Apparently the Angolan authorities investigating this antic attack to boodle the Angolan treasury agree. Zenú is now adverse accuse and has had to abandonment his passport.
Given the actuality of contiguous documentary affirmation that the MFS arrangement was accustomed by the afresh President, José Eduardo dos Santos, the latter’s amnesty adjoin bent case may not save him. Amnesty could be set aside, admitting this would be for the country’s assembly to determine.
However, specialists who chase Angolan backroom say Dos Santos may accept hoped that by application his role as admiral of the cardinal MPLA party, he could be a ‘Putin’ to Admiral João Lourenço’s ‘Medvedev’ – the absolute ability abaft the titular office-holder. Instead, his almsman is proving to be no boob and Lourenço’s carefully-calculated moves adjoin the best egregiously base associates of the antecedent administration are acceptable him accepted support. It’s accessible that Dos Santos could abstain actuality brought to amends if he were to abide all ascendancy to Admiral Lourenço, footfall bottomward from the MPLA and carelessness political activity altogether. It’s appropriately accessible that he may yet acquisition there are no guarantees to save him from the after-effects of decades of annexation his country’s coffers for his family’s claimed gain.
*D. Quaresma dos Santos contributed to the English adaptation of this story.
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