Angola: U.S.$500 Million Central Bank Theft Trial to Resume Tuesday

Angolan flag.

Luanda — The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court resumes on Tuesday, June 30th, the trial being dubbed "500 million Case", with the final arguments from both the prosecution and the defence.

In this phase, which precedes the court's verdict, the defence lawyers may continue to try to avoid a condemnation decision, while on the other side the Attorney General's Office (PGR, prosecution) will be committed to maintaining the accusation.

Initially scheduled for March 25, the trial's final arguments session was postponed, following contingency measures to curb covid-19's progression.

Standing trial are the former president of the Angola Sovereign Fund, José Filomeno Sousa dos Santos "Zenu", the former governor of the National Bank of Angola (BNA), Valter Filipe, the former director of the BNA's Reserve Management Department, António Bule Manuel, and businessman Jorge Gaudens Sebastião.

They are accused by the PGR (Public Prosecutor) of the crimes of embezzlement, money laundering, fraud and influence peddling.

At the base of the lawsuit is an illegal transfer of US $500 million from the BNA to an account at Crédit Suisse in London, England.

According to the accused, the transfer was a kind of advanced payment for a company created by the defendants, with a view to setting up a financing operation for Angola, in the amount of US $30 billion.

The plan was based on the constitution of an alleged Strategic Investment Fund and on the use of the company Mais Financial Services, S.A. as an instrument of action.

At a certain point of the trial, the former President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, in a letter sent to the Court last February, after being asked by the defence of Valter Filipe, admitted that he was the one who instructed the now defendant (Valter Filipe) to carry out the transfer of US $500 million.

José Eduardo dos Santos also mentioned, in the letter read in court, that there was no possibility of anyone taking possession of the money, since the consequences, according to the contract, were the facing of civil and criminal lawsuits, stressing that the contractual terms were clear about such possibility.

In the first session of discussion and judgment of the case, the Public Prosecution stated that the Angolan State spent more than eight million dollars, through legal action, to recover the amounts deposited illegally in London.

The case goes back to the year 2017, when the businessman Jorge Gaudens Sebastião presented José Filomeno dos Santos "Zenu" a proposal for financing alleged strategic projects for the country, which he sent to the Executive, as it was not part of the competences of the Sovereign Fund of Angola to deal with such issue.

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