On the eve of the trial of Carlos São Vicente, scheduled for 26 January, French lawyer François Zimeray gave a press conference from Paris, in which he once again insisted that the rights of the businessman, nor of the defense, that was only notified of the start of the trial two weeks ago.
He believes, therefore, that the Swiss authorities that froze an account of 900 million euros of the businessman in that country will not collaborate with their Angolan counterparts, as they have "high standards" regarding fundamental rights and have already shown "impatience" with the Public Prosecutor's Office-General of the Angolan Republic, considering that until now it has only presented an "empty" file.
"This bet on the power to organize an arbitrary arrest and a false process will not work", considered the lawyer, noting that the situation of disrespect for human rights "unfortunately reveals what is happening in that country".
For Carlos de São Vicente's defense, the excess of preventive detention is at issue - the businessman was detained 500 days ago -, as well as the inhumane conditions in which he is detained, with an impact on the deterioration of his health, and the fact that he did not having had access to the accusations against him in order to respond.
The businessman, married to Irene Neto, daughter of the first Angolan President, António Agostinho Neto, has been in preventive detention since September 2020 and is accused of several crimes, including tax fraud, involving amounts in excess of one billion euros, embezzlement and money laundering of capital.
François Zimeray said that the Angolan authorities must answer several questions, namely the need to detain the businessman if there was no risk of escape, the existence of a process after Carlos de São Vicente was investigated and declared innocent and the confiscation of his goods before the trial, among other "arbitraries" that do not dignify Angola's image and affect its attractiveness for foreign investment.
"The appropriation of assets is illegal and will undermine Angola's image and its attractiveness for investors and for anyone who wants to work in Angola in the future. It will be harmful to Angola's image," he said, adding that the international community "will be vigilant" about the process.
The start of the trial of the businessman, owner of AAA Seguros, is scheduled for January 26, at the 3rd Criminal Section of the Luanda District Court.
According to the indictment, the businessman, who for almost two decades had the monopoly of insurance and reinsurance of the state oil company Sonangol, will have set up a triangular scheme, with companies in Angola, London and Bermuda, which generated losses for the Angolan treasury, in fiscal terms, in an amount in excess of one billion euros.
The Angolan judicial authorities ordered the seizure of assets and bank accounts belonging to the businessman, and the Attorney General's Office also requested the freezing of bank accounts and the seizure of Irene Neto's assets.
According to the defense on a website dedicated to the case, on October 6, 2020, Carlos de São Vicente was visited in jail by two prosecutors from the National Asset Recovery Service, without the presence of his lawyers, having refused to hand over his documents. assets.
They also talk about the confiscation of assets without trial: "Many properties belonging to Carlos São Vicente or his companies were seized; shortly afterwards, they began to be definitively distributed, on instructions from the PGR, by various ministries and other State bodies", refer, stressing that this distribution, before a trial takes place, "means that the conviction decision has already been taken".
"The same happened with shares in a company belonging to Carlos de São Vicente: after their seizure, the named depositary hastened to make public the final destination of these shares, assuming that they already belonged to the State", they add.
They also regret that part of the seized properties are abandoned, namely the hotel chain made up of the IU and IKA hotels, which "began to wither".
"Suppliers stopped being paid, hotel units stopped providing normal services, leading many of them to have closed and others continued to work only on minimal services, with large operating losses. Many of the hundreds of workers in this hotel chain have already were not paid and lost their jobs, leaving many families destitute," the lawyers on the website say.