Angola has recouped $500 million that was frozen in an HSBC Holdings Plc account in London linked to an alleged fraud involving Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of the former president, the Finance Ministry said.
The funds were part of $1.5 billion that the Angolan government was to pay Mais Financial Services, a company managed by a person close to Dos Santos, for the start-up of a $35 billion strategic investment fund for state projects and another that would place $300 million weekly in the local-currency market, the ministry said in an emailed statement Monday.
In August, the southern African nation paid the funds into the HSBC account held by PerfectBit, a company contracted by Mais. The ministry then conducted a due-diligence exercise and found that PerfectBit was a dormant company, it said. Former central bank Governor Valter Filipe da Silva then asked HSBC to freeze the funds held in the account.
Last month, Angolan authorities named Dos Santos, the former head of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, Da Silva and several other people suspects in relation to the $500 million transfer.
The move highlights President Joao Lourenco’s determination to deliver on his pledge to fight widespread corruption since taking the helm of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer in September from Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled for 38 years and remains the leader of the ruling party. Angola ranks among the world’s 20 most-corrupt countries in the world, according to Berlin-based Transparency International.
Angolan authorities are working on recouping a further 24.85 million euros ($31 million) that were transferred into an account held by Mais, the ministry said.