Ver Angola

Defense

Businessman Carlos de São Vicente accused of tax fraud in excess of 1.2 billion dollars

The Luso-Angolan businessman Carlos de São Vicente is accused of several crimes, including continuous tax fraud for five years, with values exceeding 1.2 billion dollars, according to the indictment to which Lusa had access this Thursday.

:

According to the dispatch of the Public Ministry, in addition to the crime of tax fraud, the businessman is also accused of embezzlement and crime of money laundering in a continuous manner.

Carlos de São Vicente has already been notified of the indictment last 17th, but the defense lawyers consider the document to be affected by procedural irregularities, and have already requested the annulment of the act.

According to the indictment, the businessman, who for almost two decades had a monopoly on insurance and reinsurance for the state oil company Sonangol, allegedly set up a triangular scheme, with companies in Angola, London and Bermuda, which led to losses to the Angolan treasury, in tax terms, of over US$1.2 billion.

With this scheme, and according to the same document, Carlos de São Vicente, owner of one of the largest private business groups in Angola at the time, also managed not to share profits from the insurance and reinsurance business with other co-insurers, such as the public insurer ENSA, thus damaging these companies as well as Sonangol itself.

This accusation, according to sources connected to the defense of the businessman "has an almost non-existent foundation", because there are no facts that prove tax fraud.

For the prosecution, Carlos de São Vicente created from a certain time a "kind of business with himself, within the AAA group [of which he was the owner], causing the detour of public funds.

With this scheme, when an insured contacted him through AAA Seguros in Angola, the businessman would contract with group companies outside the country, evading taxes in Angola.

This structure "in no way benefited the Angolan state" and "only benefited the AAA group of companies," led and controlled at the time by Carlos de São Vicente, said the prosecutors.

The Bermuda contact base was used "solely to inflate the premiums paid by the oil companies, and was used as a way to deceive the unwary. And, because of the existing bureaucracy, "Angola ceased to exist as an 'oil producer' and Bermuda became a new 'producer' of oil," since business was done through that country.

In this way, the indictment also considers that the businessman undermined Sonangol's strategy to foster national business, "consequently causing serious losses to the Angolan treasury."

"In fact, as a result of such structural changes perpetrated by the defendant, only 50 percent of the premiums paid by the oil companies followed the normal course of the international market, with 15 percent going to AAA Reinsurance and the remaining 35 percent going, in the form of commissions, to the remaining offshore companies of the AAA group," the indictment states.

In addition, and "without any justification", premiums began to "suffer significant increases and deductibles rose to values far above" those previously practiced.

Thus, deductibles that used to be US$2 million became US$20 million, without this increase being reflected in any reduction in premiums and commissions that were being charged to risks in Angola.

For the "overcharging of insurance premiums, the defendant, through AAA Correctores de Seguros Lda, in certain situations, indicated various commissions for those involved in the business and, at other times, in a discretionary manner, used other criteria that best suited him, since it was he, the defendant, who established the amount to be charged to each operator.

On the other hand, AAA Reinsurance [in Bermuda], owned by the defendant, became the company that sold business in the international market and "any benefits that the business volume could offer, such as the profit commission resulting from good claims experience, was paid" in that country and "not, as it should be, to the respective insureds in Angola," the indictment also stresses.

In terms of insurance premiums, payments were made directly to the AAA seguros SA account at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), based in London, and from there transfers were made to the reinsurers, the prosecutors said.

Because of this scenario created by the defendant, "in the years 2009 to 2015, there was a volume of commissions paid to the AAA group, that is, about USD: 1,299,222,331.00," the indictment states.

The indictment stresses that "not a single" of these commissions entered Angolan territory, verifying "a marked tax evasion, because if these commissions had been paid in Angolan territory, they would have been declared in the balance sheets and accounts of AAA Seguros SA, with the due contributions to the State, under the tax regime, reverting to the national treasury.

This, despite the fact that AAA Seguros is "bound to share the reinsurance ceding and profit commissions, resulting from the business with the other co-insurers".

However, in the framework of the special compulsory coinsurance scheme for the petrochemical branch, of which AAA Seguros SA was the leader and which shared a commission with Ensa, in a 55-45 percent split respectively, the defendant deducted from the public insurer an additional administrative management commission and the state-owned company "had fewer gains than it was entitled to by law," the indictment also states.

The court finds that Carlos de São Vicente "withheld from the various coinsurers the commission amounts that he was legally obliged to pay in accordance with the percentages of the stakes established by each insurer.

"In an incontrovertible manner," as the report, quoted in the indictment, produced by the Angolan Agency for Insurance Regulation and Supervision (ARSEG), states, "an amount of over USD: 1,200,000,000.00 relating to undue commissions" was "taken from the national treasury.

Related