Ver Angola

Defense

Angola assesses Isabel dos Santos' criminal responsibility in Dande port concession

The State announced this Monday that it is evaluating a criminal action in the dispute with the company Atlantic Ventures, of the businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, about the port of Dande.

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According to the Angolan Ministry of Transport, "the Arbitration Court in Paris decided unanimously and unappealably, on Friday, July 10, not to uphold the case opened by the company Atlantic Ventures against the Angolan State".

However, the company has already denied that such a decision existed, considering that that court only decided that it had no jurisdiction to judge the case.

"The Court of Arbitration lacks jurisdiction to rule on the merits of the claim filed by the plaintiff," indicates a copy of the decision disclosed by Atlantic Ventures.

However, for the Ministry of Transportation, the dismissal of the complaint gives reason to the Angolan State in the process, which contests the revocation of a presidential decree of 2017, of the then President of the Republic José Eduardo dos Santos, which authorized the concession of the port of Dande.

According to the Luanda authorities, the court "effectively agrees with the Angolan State, as the argument of Atlantic Ventures lacks foundation" to appeal to that court.

The resolution of disputes by arbitration are merely applicable within the scope of the respective definitions of concession, that is, when an administrative contract is concluded", something that, according to the Angolan State, did not happen, being in question the presidential decree.

"Therefore, the court concluded that, from the analysis of the various arguments presented by Atlantic Ventures and also considering the various other arguments by the parties, there is no legal or other contractual basis" that allows the institution of arbitration to act, reads the communiqué.

The presidential decree signed by the father of the businesswoman also authorized the establishment of a free zone, within a perimeter from the mouth of the River Dande to the proximity of the Capolo area, with a sovereign guarantee from the Angolan State of 1.5 billion dollars, in the form of payment independent of any justification, without prejudice to other additional guarantees.

Following the revocation of the decree signed six days before the current President, João Lourenço took office, Atlantic Ventures filed two arbitration proceedings: one under the aegis of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, in Paris, and the other, for 'ad hoc' arbitration, claiming in both that the revocation was illegal and unconstitutional.

The Ministry of Transport recalls that in 2018 the International Chamber of Commerce had already concluded that the Angolan State was right and rejected Atlantic Ventures' request, but the company "forced by all procedural means the continuation of the arbitration".

In this regard, the Angolan Government, as a result of the multiple public statements made by Isabel dos Santos, who claims to be the real beneficiary or owner of Atlantic Ventures, informed that "the existence of evidence of possible criminal liability in this case is under legal analysis".

In the statement, the ministry reaffirms the government's commitment to "the implementation of an integrated development terminal for the Dande bar".

The undertaking will be promoted "through the use of qualified foreign investors with technical and financial capacity, which will ensure the creation of national strategic reserves in the food, fuel and energy fields, aiming at the economic development of the country", concludes the note.

About 60 kilometres north of Luanda, the Dande is the only deep-water port in the region, in the province of Bengo.

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