"Transparency International Portugal considers very serious the evidence of continued money laundering involving Banco Comercial Português (BPC), demanding full transparency on the results of audits carried out by the Bank of Portugal (BdP) and strengthening the powers of banking supervision authorities in the European Union," reads a statement, released following a complaint filed in Lisbon.
Three angolan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have filed a complaint in the portuguese courts, denouncing alleged corruption and money laundering schemes carried out by former managers of state oil company Sonangol, including former vice-president Manuel Vicente.
"The complaint now filed against BCP, associated with everything we already know about Isabel dos Santos' EuroBIC, denounces a pattern that cannot be ignored: the portuguese banking system was or still is used to launder illicit capital from Angola," said the executive director of TI Portugal, Karina Carvalho, quoted in the statement.
"The Bank of Portugal does not seem to be able to stop the luxury laundromat installed in our country, nor to effectively enforce national and EU legislation, so we can only appeal for all audits conducted to banking institutions and their results to be made public in order to understand exactly the extent of the problem, as well as the action of the BdP in the prevention of these crimes", she added.
The president of TI Portugal, Susana Cardoso, pointed out, in turn, that the BdP "seems to have great difficulties in imposing on banks the adoption of enhanced measures of identification and diligence, especially when it comes to business relationships and operations involving high-risk third countries, such as Angola".
At a press conference this Thursday in Luanda, representatives of the Mãos Livres Association, Fordu (Regional Forum for University Development) and Omunga Association, linked to the defense of human rights and the exercise of citizenship, said that a complaint has been filed with the Portuguese Central Criminal Investigation Department (DCIAP).
According to Salvador Freire, from Mãos Livres, spokesman for the group, the facts occurred between 2005 and 2012 and besides the former directors of Sonangol, the Bank Millenium BCP (Portuguese Commercial Bank) is also involved.
The representative of the three NGOs said that the complaint was filed on the 7th of this month in Portugal, considering that the European country "served as a laundromat" for the money allegedly embezzled from Angola.
The complaints are against Baptista Muhungo Sumbe, José Pedro Benge, Manuel Domingos Vicente, Fernando Osvaldo dos Santos and other people, including current or former employees of Millenium BCP.
In response to journalists, Salvador Freire said that the bank where the actions took place is based in Portugal and the organizations have sufficient evidence on this fact, although the funds came from corruption involving Angolan actors.
"Portugal was the laundromat, in fact, for several years Portugal has served as a laundromat for illicit funds from corruption in Angola, showing that this type of criminality transcends national borders to the detriment of Angolans, so this is an initiative to hold the beneficiaries and facilitators of the corruption scheme accountable," he said.
The lawyer and activist stressed that the lawsuit could have been filed in Angola, but the organizations decided to move forward with the action "in a sphere where it is possible to hold the different actors accountable".
Despite the fact that the complaint was filed in Portugal, the announcement made this Thursday in Luanda aims at the Attorney General's Office of Angola to investigate the denunciations, Salvador Freire pointed out.
Salvador Freire said that the scheme involves Sonangol International Inc business worth 35 million dollars, which is suspected to have been illicitly paid in 2012 by SBM's subsidiary, SBM Holding Inc. SA. to the second ghost company in Panama, Sonangol International Inc and under very similar circumstances as the Madrill payments.
The Angolan activist said he believed in Angolan justice and explained that the complaint comes nine years after the facts, after an "attentive process [of investigations]."
"We had to work very hard on this process and find enough elements to support the complaint, so it took us time and we had to do investigations here and beyond, that's why it took all this time. We brought enough evidence, both documentary and testimonial evidence," he stressed.