Angola: USD 500 Mln Trial - Former Finance Minister Discredits Transfer Authorization

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Luanda — The former minister of Finance, Archer Mangueira, affirmed last Tuesday, in court, that he does not know about any green light from the former President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, to transfer the $500 million to the Credit Suisse Bank, in London.

Heard in court as deponent on the $500 million trial, Archer Mangueira clarified that currency operations approved by the President of the Republic are supported by law, through presidential orders, and regarding this transfer he doesn't remember seeing any formal authorization.

Archer Mangueira informed that he was instructed by the former President in June, 2016, to contact the group of banks that were interested to build up an investment fund in Angola.

According to the deponent, after the first exploratory meeting, held in Lisbon (Portugal), at which he headed a delegation made up of former BNA Governor, Valter Filipe, and former chairman of the Board of the Sovereign Fund, José Filomeno dos Santos "Zénu", defendants in this case, a memorandum of understanding was drawn up which, however, was never signed by the parties. As a follow-up, he said, the former head of the Executive Branch instructed him to set up a commission made up of technicians from the Ministry of Finance, the BNA and qualified lawyers to continue contacts until a possible agreement.

Lack of Credibility

Archer Mangueira went on to say that the operation which had has main objective the creation of a strategic investment fund for structuring projects, already lacked credibility.

In his understanding, the objectives and the support information that were presented by the "Syndicate of Banks" raised many doubts, jeopardizing the country's international credibility in terms of financial management.

To him, "If I was the Central Bank's Governor, this transfer would never take place because it did not comply with internationally established standards".

He pointed out that the proposing parties were dormant companies, without any physical structure or financial record on the stock exchange.

"After the current Executive took office, this issue was analyzed in depth and it was decided to cancel the operation and recover the amount already transferred abroad," he said. The trial, which has been taking place since last December, is in the evidences stage and is due to proceed this Wednesday with the hearing of the Governor of the National Bank of Angola (BNA), José de Lima Massano.

The deputy director of the BNA Legal Office, Álvaro Pereira, and the Economic Advisor to former BNA Governor João dos Santos Ebo may also be heard.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court awaits also the reply of the quiz sent to the former President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, listed in the process as deponent, requested by the lawyer of the defendant, Valter Filipe.

Defendants on trial: Former Central Bank Governor, Valter Filipe, the Former Chief Executive Officer of the Sovereign fund, José Filomeno dos Santos "Zenu", Former Chief of the Central Bank's Reserves Management Department, António Samalia Bule Manuel and the businessman Jorge Gaudens Pontes Sebastião.

The four defendants are being heard in the Supreme Court's Criminal Chamber due to alleged illegal transfer of $500 million from the Angolan Central Bank to a bank account in Credit Suisse Bank, in London.

In the process, Valter Filipe is accused of crimes of embezzlement, money laundering and fraud. Zénu dos Santos and the other two are accused of crimes of influence peddling, money laundering and fraud.

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