The half a billion US dollars that landed in a HSBC account in the United Kingdom came from the Angolan central bank’s account with Standard Chartered Bank, it has emerged.

HSBC froze the funds and filed a suspicious activity report with the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which went on to seize the funds.

A Standard Chartered spokesman said: “We are aware that our client, Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), was the victim of an attempted fraud in Angola which involved the transfer of funds from their Standard Chartered Bank account.

“We understand the fraud was not successful and that BNA is conducting its own investigation and has now recovered the monies. This matter is also subject to a criminal investigation in the UK, and Standard Chartered Bank is closely cooperating with BNA and UK law enforcement.”

The NCA recently said: “The National Crime Agency’s (NCA) International Corruption Unit is investigating a potential USD500m fraud against the Banco Nacional de Angola. In December 2017 and January 2018 the NCA made use of the new provisions within the Criminal Finances Act 2017 preventing the transfer of assets. The necessary authority has now been provided for the monies to be returned to the Angolan Authorities.”

It added that: “The NCA’s investigation is on-going and we welcome the cooperation with the Angolan Authorities to date to bring about a successful resolution to this matter.”

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