Former Angolan leader’s son jailed for 5 years over $500 million theft

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of Angola’s former president, headed the country’s sovereign wealth fund/Photo: Screenshot/LPR


Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of Angola’s former president, was on Friday (14 August) sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty on corruption charges, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Dos Santos, 42, was charged to court in December over allegations he tried to embezzle up to $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros) from the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Nicknamed “Zenu”, dos Santos was charged with stealing $500 million from the fund and transferring it to a bank account in the UK. British authorities had frozen the money after suspecting foul play and say it will now be returned to Angola. 

“For the crime of fraud… and for the crime of peddling influence… the legal cumulus condemns him to a single sentence of five years in prison,” judge Joao da Cruz Pitra said.

Three co-defendants, including the former governor of the national bank of Angola (BNA), Valter Filipe da Silva, were sentenced to between four and six years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling. 

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 $500 million he attempted to steal was transferred out of Angola between December 2017 and January 2018 ostensibly when it became clear that he would be removed from his position.

READ ALSO Angola recovers more than $5 billion from corrupt officials and foreign accomplices

Dos Santos is the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part an anti-graft campaign led by President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017.

After 38 years in power, Zenu’s father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, resigned in September 2017.

President Lourenco, who promised during his election campaign to take decisive action against corruption, dismissed Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s daughter and Zenu’s half-brother who is reportedly Africa’s richest woman, as head of state oil company Sonangol.

In February, Angolan investigators froze the assets of Ms dos Santos and she is being probed for a long list of crimes in Angola, including mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering during her stewardship of Sonangol. She has vehemently denied the accusations against her and denounced the government’s actions as a politically-motivated “witch-hunt”.

Adira Kallo

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