Angola jails first president's kin for nine years over corruption

Friday March 25 2022

Angola state-owned oil company Sonangol. PHOTO | REUTERS


Angolan businessman and husband of Irene Neto, the daughter of the first President Agostinho Neto, has been handed a nine-year prison term for embezzlement, tax fraud and money laundering.

The Luanda District Court also ordered he makes compensation of $500 million.

Carlos São Vicente, who has been in custody since his arrest in September 2020, was a key figure in Angola’s oil industry. He owned a group of companies called AAA International, which sold insurance contracts to state oil company Sonangol for nearly two decades of bumper profits.

The government froze his accounts and seized his assets.

The defence lawyers said they would appeal the court’s decision.

His wife Irene Neto, a former deputy minister, and their three sons live in Portugal.


Her father, António Agostinho Neto, ruled Angola for four years after independence from Portugal, 1975 to 1979, when in died in Moscow. His successor, José Eduardo dos Santos, reigned for 38 years until 2017 when current President João Lourenço took over.

Mr Lourenço has since launched an anti-corruption drive to recoup assets embezzled under the previous regime.

In February, the government said it had recovered assets worth more than $11 billion that had been looted from state coffers and stashed in countries worldwide.

According to the country’s justice minister, Mr São Vicente allegedly diverted more than $900 million from the Sonangol through a scheme involving his companies.

In its ruling, the court found that between 2000 and 2016, Mr São Vicente carried out a scheme of illegal appropriation of shares of AAA International and income and profits made through a system of insurance and reinsurance in the oil sector in Angola, thanks to the company’s monopoly.

Angolan authorities confiscated several AAA buildings and hotels in the capital Luanda, belonging to Mr São Vicente, who is also under investigation in Switzerland for embezzlement and money laundering.