Britain says $500mn from alleged fraud can be returned to Angola

Last week, Angolan prosecutors charged former central bank governor, Valter Filipe da Silva, in relation to the alleged $500 million fraud attempted against the Angolan government.

This file photo taken on 17 August 2011 shows former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Picture: AFP.

LUANDA - Britain’s National Crime Agency said on Monday $500 million frozen in the UK as part of an ongoing investigation into a potential fraud against Angola’s central bank can be returned to the southern African country.

“The necessary authority has now been provided for the monies to be returned to the Angolan Authorities,” an emailed response to questions said.

Last week, Angolan prosecutors charged former central bank governor, Valter Filipe da Silva, in relation to the alleged $500 million fraud attempted against the Angolan government last year, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The source said the attempted fraud occurred in the final weeks of the presidency of José Eduardo dos Santos when $500 million was transferred from the central bank to an account in the United Kingdom. It was, however, flagged as suspicious by British authorities and frozen.

Angola’s prosecutors’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to contact da Silva.

In January, in response to questions about the case sent by Reuters, Britain’s National Crime Agency said: “We can confirm that the NCA’s international corruption unit is investigating a case of potential fraud against the Angolan Government.”

According to a separate source, NCA investigators have visited Luanda and held meetings with top government officials.

On Thursday, the NCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news was first broken earlier on Thursday by the blog Maka Angola run by activist and journalist Rafael Marques.

President João Lourenço has vowed to combat an endemic culture of corruption since taking office in September after nearly 38 years of rule by dos Santos.

“No one is so rich and powerful that they cannot be punished and no one is so poor that they cannot be protected,” he said at his inauguration.