"On behalf of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, the XVI Constitutional Government [led by Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada between 2014 and 2018] signed a credit agreement [of 28.1 million euros] with an investment fund constituted under under the Law of the Special Region of the People's Republic of China - Hong Kong - and based in that region", explains Independent Democratic Action (ADI) in a press release.
According to ADI, "the aforementioned credit agreement binds the State of São Tomé and Príncipe exclusively to that entity [China International Fund] and does not reveal any evidence of corruption or misappropriation of public resources, it being certain and proven that all the money transferred by said Fund went to the public treasury account and used in accordance with the established rules".
"Incomprehensibly, the Government and its acolytes, inside and outside the country, after a tiresome campaign of false accusations and unscrupulous expedients, come with the baseness that is customary to them, to associate the Republic of Angola to the case, when at the time that country was neither an intermediary nor a guarantor in the granting of the credit in question, and the Government of São Tomé and Príncipe never had any intention or purpose of contracting with the Republic of Angola, let alone causing it damage, either in whatever nature", says the Independent Democratic Action.
About three weeks ago, the Attorney General of the Republic, Hélder Pitta Grós, told Lusa that "the defendants have not yet been constituted" in the alleged embezzlement of 30 million dollars ceded by Angola to São Tomé and Príncipe and added that the two countries are cooperating to discover the truth.
"We are working and we cannot have any perspective, our only perspective is to discover the truth and then say something, we are working to discover the truth", said Hélder Pitta Grós, questioned by Lusa.
In its statement, the ADI states that "investigations were carried out and various steps were taken into the case [of the alleged embezzlement of 30 million dollars], both domestically and internationally, without any evidence of crimes having been collected" and emphasizes that "São Tomé and Príncipe is a rule of law, where justice decisions prevail over all others, and that no new element has been brought in" that, in the party's view, justifies the reopening of the case filed by the Public Prosecutor's Office.
At the end of last month, the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party (MLSTP/PSD), the main governing party, asked for the reopening of the investigation into the loan "following news on the matter published very recently in an Angolan newspaper [Blog Maka Angola] and assumed by journalist Rafael Marques".
The ADI considers that "there is nothing new on the matter, but new pretexts to resume the persecution, continue to destroy the country and divert the people's attention from what is essential for their survival, the country's progress and the expansion of potential" of youth.
The opposition party accuses the Government of deviating from the country's problems, especially the cases of dengue that led to the outbreak of the disease in the country, "preferring to put on its priority political agenda a well-known case, which is under the of justice, already outside the competence of the Government, and which has been extensively investigated and archived since 2019".
"This inversion of priorities reveals the real intentions of the Government and the parties in power, which with the approach of the legislative elections and the fear of drastic popular censorship, decided to return to the old practices of persecution, slander, defamation and discredit, with the sole purpose of offending the image, prestige, good name and reputation of political opponents, as the only way to survive", reads the statement, signed by the vice president of ADI, Celmira Sacramento.
On his blog 'Maka Angola', Rafael Marques – who was recently in São Tomé and Príncipe – published an article entitled "Angola and the Hidden Debt of São Tomé", indicating that on 25 July 2015 – during the government headed by Patrice Trovoada and of which Vila Nova and Américo Ramos were ministers, respectively with the portfolios of Infrastructure and Finance - "China-Sonangol Investment transferred, from Indonesia, the amount of 10 million dollars to the account of the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe in the Portuguese bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos".
"This amount was part of a credit agreement, totaling 30 million dollars, between the China International Fund (CIF) and the Sao Tome government. The remaining 20 million dollars 'disappeared', 'evolved', and the Government of São Tomé does not know how to ask for them, nor who to pay the debt of 10 million dollars. A case that is at least ridiculous, and that involves Angola through the [state oil] Sonangol," he added.
According to the same publication, the loan was intended for the construction of a new administrative center and residences for civil servants in the capital, São Tomé, and was due to be repaid by 2036, after a five-year grace period, with an annual interest rate of 1 percent.
"China-Sonangol Investment is a consortium between the Angolan oil company Sonangol and CIF, forming part of a web of private interests with companies called Sonangol, based in Indonesia, China and Singapore", continued Rafael Marques.
According to Maka Angola, the National Assembly of São Tomé and Príncipe clarified, in 2019, that "after researching the database of the legislative process, there was never any proposal for a resolution on the loan agreement between the State of São Tomé and Príncipe and the CIF", despite the fact that Sao Tome legislation provides that loan agreements to the State "must be submitted for approval" by parliament.