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 officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Corruption: Government corruption at all levels was widespread, and accountability was limited due to a lack of checks and balances, lack of institutional capacity, and a culture of impunity, although there were some institutions working to improve transparency and accountability within the government. The judiciary was subject to political influence and conflict of interest. Public prosecutions of corruption cases were rare.
On March 1, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Global Fund, an international organization focused on fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, published the findings from a corruption investigation related to a 2013 malaria grant to the government. The OIG reported that senior Ministry of Health officials committed fraud and collusion by diverting several million dollars of Global Fund grant money into their own private investments. The Ministry of Health required that the officials repay the funds, which the Global Fund reported were later repaid, and referred the case for prosecution. There was no public information on the status of the case at year’s end.
The Ministry of Finance published the national budget including information on national expenditures and debt obligations, on its website. Accountability of public funds expenditure, however, remained poor. During the year the Ministry of Finance and the International Monetary Fund collaborated on financial transparency initiatives.
In June 2015 the National Assembly passed the Mutual Legal Assistance Law, which allows government agencies and private companies to share information with international law enforcement agencies to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In 2012 the government decided to pursue structural anti-money-laundering (AML) reforms. In support of this strategy, the country joined the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental “policy-making” body responsible for setting standards and implementing necessary measures to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the integrity of the international financial system. The government worked with ICRG as well as the regional FATF group to which it belongs, the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), to conform its laws, regulations, and organizations to FATF’s recommendations, and adopted a mutual evaluation report (MER) on antimoney laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies to be addressed. For its efforts in addressing these deficiencies, the country was removed from the FATF/ICRG gray list in February, with the goal to continue working with the ESAAMLG to address the full range of AML/CFT deficiencies. In August, however, the ESAAMLG Task Force of Senior Officials reported the country had not made significant progress and had failed to implement the MER recommendations since August 2015.
While the National Bank of Angola (BNA) announced a series of actions to implement stronger AML/CFT measures, many local and international financial sector commentators noted that the BNA lacked sufficient oversight on AML/CFT issues. Experts point to the persistent lack of coordination across the country’s financial and law enforcement agencies on identifying and ultimately prosecuting financial sector crimes. Despite the ESAAMLG’s recommendation to the government to increase the role, independence, and visibility of the country’s five-year-old Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the FIU largely continued to operate in the shadow of the BNA and relied on the BNA for its budget. The Anti-Corruption Group, formed in 2013 and chaired by the Ministry of Justice, met infrequently and did not make public its findings during the year.
As in previous years there were credible reports government officials used their political positions to profit from business deals. The business environment continued to favor those connected to the government, including members of the president’s family.
Government ministers and other high-level officials commonly and openly owned interests in public and private 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.
Financial Disclosure: The law on public probity requires senior government officials to declare their assets to the attorney general. According to the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the financial information of government officials was provided to the appropriate government office. The law treats these reports as confidential. The president, vice president, and president of the National Assembly are exempt from these public probity requirements. 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 a new declaration be made upon leaving office but states 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 employment for three to five years, a ban on 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.
Transparency problems remained in the diamond industry, particularly regarding allocations of exploration, production, and purchasing rights.
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 gazette can be purchased for a small fee but was not available online in its entirety. In general the government was not responsive to routine requests for information, and it was sometimes unclear what information the government considered public versus private.