Although the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement these laws effectively, and local and international NGOs and media sources reported that officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Corruption: Government corruption at all levels was endemic. The country does not have a special entity mandated with the responsibility of combating corruption. Public prosecutions were rare. During the year the government did not charge or prosecute any high-level official for corruption. The national criminal investigation department of the national police also investigated some cases.
Government corruption was widespread, and accountability was limited due to a lack of checks and balances, lack of institutional capacity, and a culture of impunity. The judiciary was corrupt and subject to political influence and conflict of interest.
The attorney general’s office, national assembly, financial court, supreme court, and national directorate of inspection and investigation of economic activities (DNIIAE) were all responsible for combating corruption. The attorney general’s office had the authority to initiate investigations into potential cases of corruption at high levels. The DNIIAE did so at lower levels. The court system had responsibility for convicting and punishing corruption cases.
As in previous years, there were credible reports that government officials used their political positions to profit from business deals. For example, the daughter of Jose Maria, the head of the FAA’s military intelligence and security directorate, reportedly owned a company that had millions of dollars in contracts with the FAA. The commander-general of the national police reportedly owned a company that sells weapons to the national police.
The business climate continued to favor those connected to the government, including members of the president’s family. In March Forbes magazine listed Isabel dos Santos, daughter of President dos Santos, as Africa’s youngest billionaire with a net worth of more than two billion dollars. In August Forbes increased its estimate of her wealth to more than three billion dollars, and claimed that every one of her major investments “stems either from taking a chunk of a company that wants to do business in the country or from a stroke of the president’s pen that cut her into the action.”
Government ministers and other high-level officials commonly and openly owned interests in companies regulated by or doing business with their respective ministries. There are laws and regulations regarding conflict of interest, but they were not enforced. Petty corruption among police, teachers, and other government employees was widespread. Police extorted money from citizens and refugees, and prison officials extorted money from family members of inmates (see sections 1.c., 1.d., and 2.d.).
In February the Swiss NGO Berne Declaration reported on potentially illicit business dealings between Trafigura, the third largest Swiss company, and Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino,” a general in the FAA and an advisor to President dos Santos. According to the NGO, Claude Dauphin, a founding stakeholder in Trafigura, and Dino do Nascimento are joint shareholders in and directors of a company that had monopolistic contracts worth $3.3 billion with the Angolan state-owned oil company Sonangol. The NGO also detailed several other business ventures in Angola between Trafigura and various holding companies that are wholly or partially owned by Dino do Nascimento and other high ranking government officials, including Vice President Manuel Vicente and the head of state security, General Manuel “Kopelipa” Helder Vieira Dias Junior.
On July 26, a judge sentenced Joaquim Ribeiro, the former commander of the Luanda Provincial Police--who was under investigation for embezzling public funds and ordering the killing of a police officer--to 15 years in prison and a fine of nearly 3.2 million kwanzas ($33,684) in fines for his role in the crimes. Several other culprits were given sentences ranging from two to 14 years’ imprisonment.
In April the Angolan human rights organization Maos Livres (Open Hands) and the London-based Corruption Watch UK, reported on a corrupt debt repayment deal between Angola and Russia that ran from 1996-2004. Although the case itself, known widely as “Angolagate,” was not new, the authors claimed to have identified new information about the way the deal was carried out and who the primary players were. The report alleges that several high-level officials, including President dos Santos, were among a small group of beneficiaries who illegally earned at least $386 million from the deal. It identified an additional $400 million in unaccounted funds that likely went to pay off other unknown insider beneficiaries. The report also implicates the Swiss Banking Corporation (which later merged with the Swiss banking giant UBS) as being complicit in the deal, and called on the governments of Angola, Switzerland, and several EU states to investigate the “Angolagate” scandal based on the information uncovered. By year’s end, no known action had been taken.
Whistleblower Protection: The country has no explicit whistleblower laws, although Article 73 of the constitution does state that citizens have a right to petition, denounce, and present legal complaints in defense of their rights, of the constitution and other laws, and in defense of general interests.
Financial Disclosure: In 2010 the national assembly approved a law on public probity, which requires most government officials to declare their assets to the attorney general. However, no officials made information available to the public during the year, and the president, vice president, and president of the national assembly are exempt from these requirements. The law stipulates that nonexempt government officials declare all real estate holdings, household goods, livestock, cash assets, land titles, and stock holdings. Declarations are to include all assets in country and overseas. The law does not cover spouses and children. Nonexempt government officials are to make a new declaration within 30 days of assuming a new post and every two years thereafter. The law does not stipulate that a new declaration be made upon leaving office but does state that officials must return all government property within 60 days. Penalties for noncompliance vary depending on which section of the law was violated but include removal from office, a bar from government work for three to five years, a bar from contracting with the government for three years, repayment of the illicitly gained assets, and a fine of up to 100 times the value of the accepted bribe. The national office of economic police is responsible for investigating violations of this law, as well as other financial and economic crimes, and then referring them to the Financial Court for prosecution. There were no known cases related to this law during the year.
The government publicly discloses its national budget on an annual basis, including incomes and expenditures, but fiscal data is not complete, accurate, or reliable. Revenue flows from the oil sector to the budget are hard to track, as transfers from Sonangol, the state-owned oil company, to the state treasury are delayed and sporadic. The government reportedly was taking measures to address these shortcomings and successfully completed its second technical review after completing its stand-by arrangement with the IMF in March 2012. Sonangol phased out most, but not all, of its quasi-fiscal activities.
The government published online a detailed block-by-block accounting of the monthly revenues it received from Sonangol’s oil production. It continued to withhold, however, financial information about the sale price of offshore oil blocks sold in 2011. The bonuses that oil companies pay for block purchases, which are paid on top of the bid price, reportedly reach into the tens of millions of dollars, and the blocks themselves have sold for billions of dollars. There also continued to be a significant lack of transparency in the government’s overall procurement and use of loans received from private banks and foreign governments.
To monitor and control expenditures more effectively, the ministry of finance continued implementation of the integrated financial system, designed to record all central government expenditures.
The financial statements of Endiama, the state diamond parastatal, were not made public. Serious transparency problems remained in the diamond industry, particularly regarding allocation of exploration, production, and purchasing rights and reporting of revenues. In April a leading human rights activist accused the chief executive officer of Endiama of corruption and “self-dealing” in the diamond trade by owning 99 percent of a company that trades with Endiama.
In June the government announced that President dos Santos’ son, Jose Filomeno “Zenu” dos Santos, would take over as the chair of the country’s five billion dollar sovereign wealth fund. The fund is tasked with investing some of the country’s oil wealth in infrastructure and social development projects, although at year’s end no funds had yet been invested. In December 2012 an opposition political party filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the presidential decree that created the fund. The complaint was not that the country should not have such a fund, but rather that dos Santos as president could not create it without authorization from the national assembly. The Constitutional Court declared on February 8 that the act was constitutional. In its press release, the court explained that “since the fund is a public administration structure, it depends exclusively on the president of the republic,” and therefore he is permitted to create it and run it as he sees fit.
Public Access to Information: The law provides for public access to government information. While the amount of information posted on government websites gradually increased, it remained limited. Laws are made public by being published in the official gazette. The publication can be purchased for a small fee but was not available online in its entirety. In general the government was not responsive to requests for information, and it was sometimes unclear what information the government considered public versus private.