Former head of Angola’s SWF charged in $500M fraud

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The former head of Angola’s $5 billion Sovereign Wealth Fund, José Filomeno dos Santos, has been charged with fraud relating to a $500 million transaction out of an account belonging to the central bank, the country’s prosecutor general’s office said on Monday.

According to a Reuters report, dos Santos, who is the son of Angola’s ex-president, is the highest profile figure to be charged since President Joao Lourenco succeeded longtime leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos last September pledging to tackle an endemic culture of corruption.

British authorities that froze the $500 million in the UK due to suspicions over the transaction have said the money can now be returned to the oil-producing, southern African country.

Jose Filomeno Dos Santos, the former head of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, could not immediately be reached for comment. Dos Santos’ passport has been seized and he is forbidden from leaving the country.

Valter Filipe da Silva, former governor of the central bank, has also been charged with fraud in relation to the case, prosecutors said in comments transmitted by state radio. Da Silva could not be contacted for comment, Reuters said.

Prosecutors said the alleged fraud does not fall under any of Angola’s amnesty for financial wrongdoing or repatriation of overseas funds and the crime would not be pardoned.

“A pardon will not work…This case will run to its final outcome,” said Luis Benza Zanga, vice prosecutor general and head of the National Directorate for Criminal Investigations.

In a separate case, prosecutors also charged the head of the Angolan armed forces, Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, with involvement in a scheme to negotiate a fraudulent international credit line of $50 billion.

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