The Angolan government has received half a billion dollars that was ‘improperly’ transferred from its central bank’s Standard Chartered Bank account to an HSBC account in the United Kingdom.
The move comes after the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) recently confirmed that the necessary authority had been obtained for the funds to be returned to the Angolans.
The transfer of the funds to the HSBC account is now part of a large-scale fraud investigation.
In a statement explaining the alleged scam, the Angolan Finance Ministry said: “The US $500 million has already been recovered and is in the hands of the BNA [Banco Nacional de Angola, the central bank of Angola].”
The $500m was an initial payment of a planned $1.5 billion potential fraud, in which a firm claimed a consortium could arrange a $35 billion credit facility for the Angolan government provided it paid a $1.5bn ‘guarantee fee’ upfront.
A senior official at BNA is understood to have then authorised the transfer of the $500m, as the first tranche of the $1.5bn, from BNA’s Standard Chartered account in Angola to a HSBC account in the UK.
HSBC however, froze the account and alerted the NCA, which seized the funds using new powers in the Criminal Finances Act.
According to the Angolan Finance Ministry, after Angolan officials looked into the firms involved in the proposed credit facility deal, several due diligence red flags were raised and some documents involving a third bank turned out to be forged.
The alleged scaam is believed to have involved a number of individuals, including José Filomeno dos Santos, who is the son of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, and former BNA governor Valter Filipe da Silva.
Both Filomeno dos Santos and Da Silva have both reportedly been charged with fraudulently transferring the $500m.
Filomeno has said he will cooperate with authorities, according to Reuters. It has not been possible to reach Da Silva for a comment.
– Irene Madongo