Swiss group accuses Angola of intimidation in fraud probe

Mr-José-Filomeno-dos-Santos
Mr José Filomeno dos Santos

The Swiss investment group linked to Angola’s $5 million sovereign wealth fund scandal has accused Luanda authorities of intimidation.

The Financial Times on Monday reported the Quantum Global lament, following the arrest of its founder, Mr Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, in Angola.

Mr Morais was arrested last week, alongside his business associate, Mr Filomeno dos Santos. The latter is the son of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Filomeno dos Santos is at the centre of the suspect transfer of $500 million from the Angolan sovereign fund, which he once headed.

The money was allegedly transferred from the Angolan Reserve Bank to the Credit Suisse Bank in the UK.

Enough evidence

The Attorney General’s Office in Luanda said the arrests followed investigations into the operations of the sovereign fund.

A statement from the AG’s office said that although the investigations were continuing, there already was enough evidence implicating the two defendants.

“Quantum Global, which was already locked in a dispute with the wealth fund, said on Monday that it denounced intimidation, coercion and abuse of human rights by the Angolan government in the arrest of Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais last week,” the Financial Times reported.

It added: “Quantum Global said that Mr Bastos was detained over the alleged $500m scheme despite never having been accused of wrongdoing in connection with it.

“Quantum Global believes that the measures to constrain Mr Bastos were designed to force him to give up his rights and to surrender all assets and funds under the management of the group.”

Eldest daughter

Angolan authorities last March barred Filomeno dos Santos from leaving the country over fraud charges.

President João Lourenço has since his election last year embarked on an anti-corruption crusade that has seen several close associates of his predecessor implicated in wrongdoings.

He took over following an election marking the end of President dos Santos’s 38-year reign.

President Lourenço sacked Filomeno dos Santos as the head of the strategic sovereign fund in January.

The president also sacked Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s eldest daughter, as the chair of the board of the state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

Ms Isabel dos Santos, who is Africa’s richest woman, faces several graft investigations.