Angola appears at last to have turned the corner in the fight against corruption. The long-awaited trial of two “big fish,” the son of the former president and a former central bank governor, for looting the sovereign wealth fund began December 9. While the international media have focused on what the trial means for the government’s fight against corruption (Reuters story here, Bloomberg here, and BBC here), a less heralded equally significant development is quietly unfolding in Eduarda Rodrigues’ office. Deputy prosecutor general and since January head of the newly created asset recovery agency (Serviço Nacional vai Recuperar Activos), Rodrigues has begun slowly clawing back assets corrupt Angolan officials have stolen over the years.
Below is an account the results to date taken from a November presentation to the Norwegian Corruption Hunters Network.
|Properties||25||19,438, 912, 257|
approx $40 million
As the table shows, Rodrigues’ agency has recovered assets worth more than 19 billion Angolan Kwanza or some $40 million along with more than $300,000 in U.S. currency.
Rodrigues’ efforts began with the expiration of the Law of Repatriation of Financial Resources. Passed June 26, 2018, it gave those holding stolen assets 180 days to voluntary return them without sanction. Few took the government up on its offer (here), apparently believing the law was meant simply to show the international community the government was doing something to fight corruption.
As Rodrigues and her growing team of experts expand their work, an ever larger number of corrupt official will regret passing on amnesty. Law enforcement authorities in jurisdictions where Angolan stolen assets may be stashed now have a trustworthy partner to work with to see that monies stolen from the Angolan people are returned.