The son of Angola’s ex-president, José Filomeno dos Santos, has been charged with fraud relating to the illegal transfer of $500 million to a British bank out of an account belonging to the country’s Sovereign Fund, the prosecutor general’s office said on Monday.
Dos Santos is the highest profile figure to be charged since President Joao Lourenco succeeded former leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos last September vowing to tackle an endemic culture of corruption.
British authorities have already frozen the $500 million in the UK due to suspicions over the transaction and have said the money will be returned to Angola.
José Filomeno dos Santos was the chairman of the board of directors of the Sovereign Fund of Angola until January 2018. The Fund has $5 billion in its portfolio.
The former governor of the central bank, National Bank of Angola, Valter Filipe da Silva, has also been charged with fraud in relation to the case, prosecutors said.
The money was transferred out of Angola between December 2017 and January 2018 ostensibly when it became clear that dos Santos would be removed from his position.
Dos Santos’ passport has been seized and he is forbidden from leaving the country.
Prosecutors said that the alleged fraud does not fall under any of Angola’s amnesties for financial wrongdoing or repatriation of overseas funds and the crime would not be pardoned.
“A pardon will not work… this case will run to its final outcome,” vice prosecutor and head of the National Directorate for Criminal Investigations Luis Benza Zanga said.
Filomeno’s half-sister, Isabel dos Santos, has also sacked from her job as head of state oil giant Sonangol.
Investigators this month opened an inquiry into suspected misappropriation of funds during her time at the helm of Sonangol. Thought to be Africa’s richest woman, she has denied all of the allegations against her.
Jose Eduardo Dos Santos stepped down last year after 38 years in power. Lourenco, a former defence minister, succeeded him with a promise of cracking down on corruption.
Adira Kallo with agencies