The statement by José Eduardo dos Santos, to which Lusa had access, comes after unsuccessful attempts to be heard in person by the authorities, as part of the process that involves two of his former trusted men, Generals Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento ("Dino") and Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias ("Kopelipa").
In the statement, the former president mentions the purpose of "contributing to the material truth of the facts", reporting his version of the events that led the Public Ministry to accuse its former collaborators of crimes of criminal association, money laundering, embezzlement and forgery of documents and of having injured the Angolan State in hundreds of millions of euros.
In the document consulted by Lusa, José Eduardo dos Santos mentions that, after the end of the war, in April 2002, a National Reconstruction Program was promoted, resorting to external cooperation with several countries, in particular with the People's Republic of China, through government institutions, public entities and private companies, including the China International Fund group, also mentioned in the indictment.
The program provided for a memorandum of understanding between the CIF and the Cabinet for National Reconstruction (GRN), led by General "Kopelipa", who according to the testimony of the former president, who died on Friday in Barcelona, Spain, "acted in accordance with " with the laws and under the guidance of the holder of the executive power.
The GRN, which was responsible for implementing "programs of an economic, productive and social scope, structuring the reconstruction and development of Angola", counted on the CIF as a partner in terms of cooperation and development of infrastructures and services, as well as strengthening business capacity and private investment, according to the memorandum between the two entities.
However, José Eduardo dos Santos clarified that the memorandum was never intended to provide legal support for understandings leading to the establishment of the National Reconstruction Fund/China Sonangol International Holding Limited (China Sonangol), of oil contracts between Sonangol-EP and China Sonangol, financing between these entities, and GRN and China Sonangol loans.
The ex-president's testimony explains that the then president of Sonangol, and later Minister of State for Economic Coordination and vice-president, Manuel Vicente, was appointed as coordinator of cooperation with the CIF.
This cooperation relationship allowed CIF to access land for the implementation of its private investment projects, with the company's obligation to "proceed with the post-clearance regularization of the assigned land", with Manuel Vicente also being responsible for monitoring the implementation of public projects and the group's private investment.
José Eduardo dos Santos points out, however, that in the implementation of the memorandum of understanding, the participation by the GRN in the signing and execution of contracts for the purchase and sale of oil between Sonangol and China Sonangol (several thousand barrels / day, valued in billions of dollars) whose financial resources would supposedly be destined to finance national reconstruction, namely through CIF projects.
In the statement, he also highlighted that he never approved the promotion and granting of credit by the GRN to China Sonangol, nor the construction by the GRN of several buildings, including the CIF Luanda One and Luanda Two, which would be private real estate investment projects.
The former head of state wrote that he approved, however, the provision by the GRN of support to private real estate investment projects by Angolan and foreign companies in Luanda (among which the project for the centralities of Zango, Vida Pacifica and Social Housing of Kilamba Kiaxi), as well as the signing on 12 September 2007 of a contract for the construction of urban developments in Zango (22 buildings of 15 floors), with the parties having agreed an initial payment of more than 55 million dollars.
In April/May 2010, after the director of the GRN ceased to function and the body was extinguished, the project was transferred to Sonangol/Sonip.
However, given the "serious business problems" that the CIF was going through, leaving its "vast real estate assets" to be the target of vandalism and theft, and taking into account that it was a company "that contributed a lot to national reconstruction, including the creation of of jobs", Eduardo dos Santos decided, as he testified, to invite General "Dino" and jurist Fernando Santos (also accused by the Public Ministry) "to form a team and make a diagnosis" of these investment projects.
The former president wanted an inventory of what was abandoned and deteriorating, "as well as regularizing all his obligations to the Angolan State", namely the legalization of all CIF undertakings and assets so that in the absence of the company or its representatives, and without the holder of the property right, the Angolan State "would be the target of a future action for compensation for imminent damage and loss of profit, without these having any relationship or interest in the company in question".
Eduardo dos Santos indicated that General "Dino" formed and led a team with several specialized technicians to assist in this process, releasing him from the business with Chinese companies.
"The reasons that led to the absence of the owners of CIF Ltd and CIF Lda are not known to the declarant here, however, he reaffirmed here and now that Lieutenant General Leopoldino Fragosos do Nascimento and Dr. Fernando Santos have nothing to do with the company CIF Ltd. and are unaware of the origin of the funds invested in the projects in question, this being the sole and exclusive responsibility of the owners of CIF Ltd.", he guaranteed.
According to the Public Ministry's indictment, China International Fund, Limited "appropriated the 24 State buildings, built by the Guangxi company in the centrality of Zango O, contracted the company Delta Imobiliária, which sold them to Sonangol, EP, through Sonip, Lda, under the guidance of engineer Manuel Domingos Vicente, for the global amount" of 475.3 million dollars.
Delta Imobiliária, which assured the sale of the buildings, will be "owned by the engineer Manuel Domingos Vicente and the defendants Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior and Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, through the Aquattro Group", adds the document.
In this accusation Manuel Vicente, former vice-president is mentioned several times, having been under his aegis, as chairman of the board of directors of Sonangol, that in 2004 they started business with Chinese businessmen.
Manuel Vicente would be in charge of relations involving oil, while tasks related to National Reconstruction and other types of investments were in the care of "Kopelipa", according to the indictment.
Within the scope of this division of tasks, the GRN was created, depending on the President of the Republic, as head of the Government, having been appointed to its director, by presidential decree, "Kopelipa", a position he held until 2010, accumulating with that of Minister of State and Head of the Military House of the President of the Republic.
Manuel Vicente and his office director, José Pedro Benge, were also part of the GRN, but "only in the context of monitoring according to cooperation with China, without responsibilities in the execution of projects, which were exclusive to the GRN itself", reads in the Public Prosecutor's Office document.
The Chinese thus invested in the centralities that the Government wanted to develop, contracted by the GRN and paid for by Sonangol with its own funds.