Angola detains Dos Santos-linked executive on graft claims

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Map of Angola
Angolan ex-President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/GettyImages)

Angolan state prosecutors on Tuesday arrested a businessman with close links to ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos over corruption claims, amid an anti-graft drive largely aimed at the former regime.

Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente, who headed a group of companies that sold insurance contracts to state oil giant Sonangol, was placed in preventative custody after some of his business assets were seized.

He is married to a daughter of dos Santos, who has been widely accused of appointing cronies and family members to key positions during his 1979-2017 rule.

Only a small elite benefited from Angola’s vast oil and mineral reserves during the tenure of dos Santos, who has moved overseas along with most of his family.

Swiss prosecutors in 2018 froze $900 million (769 million euros) held in accounts belonging to De Sao Vicente as part of a money-laundering investigation.

Earlier this month, Angola prosecutors seized buildings and hotels owned by one of De Sao Vicente’s companies, AAA Seguros, to probe corruption allegations.

AAA’s insurance role in Sonangol had already been revoked by presidential decree in 2016 over claims its management lacked transparency.

Angola’s attorney general Alvaro Da Silva Joao on Tuesday said De Sao Vicente had been placed in preventive detention after a day of questioning.

“The interrogation… resulted in strong indications of embezzlement… abuse of power, corruption (and) influence peddling… among others,” Joao said in a statement.

“Due to the seriousness of the criminal offenses… the defendant was taken to prison in Viana (Luanda) and awaits further procedures.”

De Sao Vicente has previously denied wrongdoing.

He appears to be the latest target of an anti-graft campaign led by President Joao Lourenco, which has been mainly directed at his predecessor’s family members.

Last month, the ex-president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos landed five years in prison for diverting oil revenues from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

His half-sister Isabel dos Santos is meanwhile being probed for a long list of crimes including mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering during her stewardship of Sonangol.

Both have repeatedly denied the accusations.

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