Asset Recovery: Report from Angola

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.

AssetQuantityAmount Kz
Properties2519,438, 912, 257
Vehicles2110,000,000
Cash Kwanza33,879,229
Cash Dollars322,832
  19,482,791,487
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.

 

3 thoughts on “Asset Recovery: Report from Angola

  1. This is really interesting. So often assets are reported as frozen or restrained and then quietly returned, on appeal, normally with interest; this includes assets being returned in supposedly advanced jurisdictions. This time it looks like actual money and real estate has been recovered from several different owners. If it is true, then this is an extraordinary development. My questions include: Are these final judgements? How many owners have been deprived of assets?

  2. Just a quick question: are you optimistic about Eduarda Rodrigues continuing to be able to do this kind of work or do you reckon that this effort will run up against eventual backlash?

  3. Thank you for this fascinating post, Rick. Similar to Inayat’s question, I wonder how these Angolese government generally, and Eduarda Rodrigues specifically, can create institutions to continue this seemingly positive trend in anti-corruption. I admittedly know very little about Angola, let alone Angolese corruption, but I would think that these substantial first steps need to be cemented with institutional reform, otherwise they are merely a paise worthy, but ultimately inconsequential momentary shift in policy.

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