Since the beginning of this year, Angola has recovered more than $5 billion stolen from state coffers by members of the former government, both at home and from abroad, Justice Minister Francisco Queiroz said on Monday (16 December), amid a two-year crackdown on corruption by the government of President Joao Lourenco.
The money, including $3 billion stolen from the sovereign wealth fund, had been siphoned off through corruption and money-laundering, Queiroz said at the 8th session of the Conference of the State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The sovereign wealth fund was headed by the former President’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who was arrested in September for corruption.
“We have argued insistently that these important resources should be returned unconditionally to the countries from which they were illegally withdrawn in order to be used to improve the quality of life of our populations,” Queiroz said, adding that some countries could do more to help. He complained that some countries are not willing to cooperate in the recovery of money stolen from Africa.
Congratulations to Angola’s President João Lourenço for the anti-corruption crusade which has led to the retrieval of $5 billion in stolen assets from corrupt members of the previous regime, since he took office two years ago. pic.twitter.com/qo3KCpfdNv
— Jerry John Rawlings (@officeofJJR) December 19, 2019
President Lourenco launched an anti-corruption crackdown when he assumed office in 2017 after succeeding Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the oil-rich country for 40 years.
After taking over, Lourenco sacked Dos Santos’s son as head of the sovereign wealth fund and his daughter, Isabel, as chair of state oil company Sonangol.
The son, Jose Filomeno de Sousa, went on trial last week along with the head of the central bank accused of transferring $500 million in state funds to a London account.
The government said a European business partner of the fund had returned over $3 billion allegedly stolen from the sovereign wealth fund.
Meanwhile, former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana has praised the government of Angola over its anti-corruption drive. He made the remarks in a tweet on Thursday.
Despite Angola being Africa’s second-biggest oil-exporting country, its citizens still overwhelmingly live in abject poverty as a result of the corruption of the ruling elite in the country.