Ver Angola

Defense

Former Vice President Manuel Vicente heard by PGR in the process of Carlos de São Vicente

Former Vice President Manuel Vicente was heard on Tuesday, as a declarant, by the Attorney General's Office, in the criminal case involving businessman Carlos de São Vicente, according to a judicial source.

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According to the spokesman for the Attorney General's Office (PGR), Álvaro João, this is a normal act, pointing out that the former Angolan Vice President, during the Presidency of José Eduardo dos Santos, was notified to make statements in the case of the defendant Carlos de São Vicente.

"He was heard yesterday [Tuesday] in the National Assembly and will only be called again if there is any need. In principle he appears as a declarant, he made the statements, and he can only appear on the case if, in fact, he has some guilt," he said.

Álvaro João clarified that Manuel Vicente, currently a deputy, was heard for presiding over the state oil company Sonangol at the time, adding that the case is still under investigation and so this step was taken.

He also pointed out that the investigation of this type of process can usually take a long time, depending on the evidence that is gathered.

The hearing took place in the National Assembly, which, according to the PGR spokesperson, is a legal prerogative that allows certain entities, when notified to make statements, to choose the place and time at which they want to be heard.

Carlos de São Vicente, a Portuguese-Angolan businessman, has been detained since September in Luanda on suspicions of corruption, and has been remanded in custody, according to a January 20 order by the PGR for another two months.

Carlos de São Vicente is also under investigation in Switzerland on suspicion of money laundering.

The order that ordered the pre-trial detention of businessman Carlos de São Vicente states that he carried out "an illegal scheme" that damaged the state oil company Sonangol by more than 900 million dollars.

According to the order to which Lusa had access at the time, the businessman, who between 2000 and 2016 served simultaneously as risk management director of Sonangol and chairman of the board of AAA Seguros, a company in which the oil company was initially the sole shareholder, is said to have carried out "a scheme of illegal appropriation of shares" by the insurance company and "income and profits produced by the system" of insurance and reinsurance in the oil sector in Angola, thanks to the company's monopoly.

Thus, Carlos de São Vicente became the "majority shareholder in AAA Seguros, with 89.89 percent, to the detriment of Sonangol, which saw its holdings drastically reduced by 10 percent [to 10 percent], with an estimated loss of more than USD 900,000,000.00," and the oil company "received no benefit," in contrast, the document states.

According to the order, the defendant is said to have mentioned that the transfers of participation were made "on the basis of an informal agreement" between him, as representative of AAA Seguros, and the then chairman of the board of Sonangol, and later vice-president, Manuel Vicente.

Also according to the transcript, "a large part of the assets of AAA Seguros, SA, which has already ceased activity, belong to other companies of the same group owned/controlled by the defendant Carlos Manuel de São Vicente," through "a fraudulent process to the detriment of the Angolan State. In view of the above, the document concludes "there is no doubt, of sufficient evidence of the accused Carlos Manuel de São Vicente, incurring in the practice of the crimes of embezzlement (...), undue receipt of advantages (...), corruption (...), economic participation in business (...) trafficking of influence".

The AAA, led by Carlos de São Vicente, is one of the largest Angolan business groups, operating in the area of insurance and hotel management.

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