Ver Angola

Defense

Switzerland condemns businessman for corruption of Sonangol staff

Swiss courts have condemned a former manager of a Dutch company, who resides in Portugal, for corruption of several cadres of the state oil company Sonangol, for a total of 5.8 million euros between 2005 and 2008.

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According to the order consulted by Lusa, the funds were paid by the French administrator Didier Keller when he was CEO of SBM Offshore, who was sentenced to a suspended two-year prison sentence, which the defendant did not object to.

At stake are several transfers from that company, “specializing in the design, manufacture and marketing of marine systems and equipment for the oil and gas industry”, to oil company staff in the total amount of $ 6,836,400, accounted for by the Swiss courts, after a complaint in September 2016.

The chairman of the Board of Directors of Sonangol at the time, Manuel Vicente, who was then vice-president of Angola, between 2012 and 2017, is not mentioned as having received these funds, but several close collaborators will have received transfers and he himself would have been aware of these according to Swiss authorities.

“Following a scheduled meeting (by the defendant) to ensure that the 'commissions' required by Baptista Muhongo Sumbe (right-hand man of the Chairman of the Board of Directors) would benefit Sonangol, Didier Keller was criticized by Manuel Vicente (…) for not trust your direct reports without further explanation, ”says the Swiss dispatch.

The transfers went to private accounts and to offshore companies of these senior executives of the oil company, which had previously been linked to other cases of corruption by the Dutch company.

In November 2014, SBM Offshore agreed to pay a fine of US $ 240 million to the Dutch authorities for “acts of bribery of foreign public officials committed between 2007 and 2011, particularly in Angola”.

Three years later, SBM Offshore and its North American subsidiary agreed to pay $ 238 million for the same crimes, between 1996 and 2011, to US justice.

"The acts of corruption that Didier Keller is guilty of are serious", refer the Swiss judges, stressing that these payments had as "only objective" to ensure "the conclusion and execution of contracts by the SBM GROUP in Angola".

“Through his repeated guilty actions, Didier Keller undermined the objectivity and impartiality of the State's decision-making process in Angola”, after realizing that “this State is notoriously affected by endemic corruption that has disastrous economic and social repercussions”.

The defendant "acknowledged the facts alleged against him in the context of the present proceeding" and "provided detailed explanations for his own actions", allowing "to help advance and initiate other related investigations".

The defendant was also sentenced to damages and fines in the total amount of half a million euros.