Corruption Charges: Angolan Vice President Convicted In Portugal

Portuguese prosecutors on Thursday 16 February charged Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente with corruption in Lisbon, Portugal.

An ongoing investigation found the Angolan Vice president guilty while other charges of Bribery, Money laundering and forgery were also filed.

A statement said Vicente is suspected of bribing a Portuguese magistrate to favor him in two investigations. It said Vicente was at the time of the alleged crimes the head of Angolan state oil company Sonangol.

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The alleged bribes were made to Portugal’s former public prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who also faces charges as part of a case called “Operation Fizz”.

Mr. Vicente’s lawyer, however, denied the accusation according to the Portuguese media report.

Investigators allege Vicente paid Portuguese magistrate Orlando Figueira, who was arrested a year ago, about 760,000 euros ($808,000) to drop two investigations that involved alleged money-laundering and Angolan investments in Portugal.

Authorities have seized about 512,000 euros from the magistrate. Those amounts were found in banks in Andorra, the attorney general’s office said.

Mr. Vicente served as head of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol from 1999 until 2012, a hugely influential position now occupied by the president’s daughter Isabel Dos Santos.

Until news of the corruption scandal emerged last year, the Angolan Vice President had been strongly tipped as a potential successor to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979.

Reports have it that the original corruption investigation, halted in 2012, focused on the origin of money Mr. Vicente used to buy a luxury apartment in Lisbon, Portugal.

A local media in Portugal reported that the vice-president’s lawyer, Rui Patricio, said his client had not been notified of any charges being brought against him, describing the move as a “procedural violation” which “invalidated the legal process”.

The Portuguese prosecutors said it would inform Vicente of the charges via Angolan authorities. Vicente’s whereabouts cannot be ascertained at the moment.

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The Southwest African country’s leadership has been long faced with series of corruption. International Human Rights Groups and activists allege that the government leadership and its military supporters have siphoned greater part of Angola’s wealth.

Rich and powerful politicians in Angola have in recent years invested hundreds of millions of euros and dollars in Portugal which is their former colonial masters. The investments have gone far in bringing up the economic standard of Portugal via real estate and purchase of Portuguese companies.

Angola despite being one of the biggest oil producing countries in Africa alongside Nigeria, has its people suffering from a low standard of living with each child having to survive on $2 a day.

The child mortality rate in Angola is also very high and is said to be one of the highest in the world.