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José Filomeno dos Santos: Son of Angola’s ex-leader jailed for five years

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José Filomeno dos Santos, also known as Zenu, was head of Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund from 2013 to 2018

The son of Angola’s former president has been jailed for five years for fraud from when he was head of the oil-rich country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

José Filomeno dos Santos, 42, was accused of trying to embezzle up to $1.5bn (£1.1bn) while overseeing the $5bn fund from 2013 to 2018.

He was charged with stealing $500m from the fund and transferring it to a bank account in Switzerland.

Dos Santos’ father, José Eduardo dos Santos, led the country for 38 years.

José Eduardo dos Santos was president from 1979 until he resigned in 2017, to be replaced by the man he had handpicked for the job, his former defence minister Joao Lourenço.

José Filomeno dos Santos, also known as Zenu, spent seven months in jail over the corruption allegations before being freed in March.

He was the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part of an anti-corruption campaign led by President Lourenço.

It was widely seen as a test of Angola’s commitment to fighting corruption.

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The case is part of an anti-corruption campaign led by President Joao Lourenço

Sentencing Dos Santos at the country’s Supreme Court, Justice Joao da Cruz Pitra said: “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.”

Three co-defendants were also accused of fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling – including the former governor of the national bank of Angola (BNA) Valter Filipe da Silva.

They were each sentenced to between four and six years in prison.

All four defendants were acquitted of money laundering charges. They previously denied any wrongdoing.

This is, undoubtedly, a significant moment for Angola.

It’s important to remember that, for decades, there was no public fight against corruption in a country ruled by a “royal family”, and scores were always settled behind closed doors. In that sense, the very public conviction of such a prominent figure marks a dramatic shift from the years of elite impunity that characterised Angola’s political economy.

But across Angola, the conviction of “Zenu” is likely to be greeted with some ambivalence in a nation grappling with deep economic challenges, and where many are starting to wonder if the new president’s clean-up campaign is really more about settling scores with old rivals – a narrow vendetta – rather than heralding the beginning of an era of true transparency.

“It’s a step forward. But the jury is still out on what it really means,” said Ricardo Soares di Oliviera, an Oxford professor and expert on African politics. He observed that the authorities were prosecuting “obvious suspects and low-hanging fruit” linked to the Dos Santos family, but have yet to move more broadly against entrenched corruption.

And here is the real risk for Angola, as prosecutors continues to pursue the far higher-profile target of Isabel dos Santos: that an anti-corruption drive that was initially hailed as a game-changing move for one of the continent’s “sleeping giants”, turns into a mere weapon in an arsenal of political dirty tricks.

President Lourenço fired another of his predecessor’s children, Isabel dos Santos, believed to be Africa’s richest woman, from her position as head of the state oil giant Sonango in November 2017 over alleged embezzlement.

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Media captionIsabel dos Santos: “I regret that Angola has chosen this path”

Ms Dos Santos denies any wrongdoing. She now lives abroad after saying that her life had been threatened.

The former president is also believed to have left the country.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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