Former president of Angolan State oil company Sonangol fighting Portuguese tax authorities

Former president of Angolan State oil company Sonangol fighting Portuguese tax authorities

A former president of Angola’s State oil company Sonangol is fighting Portuguese tax authorities over 991,000 euros the latter claim is owing to them.

Francisco de Lemos José Maria took over from Manuel Vicente at Sonangol after Vicente went on to become Angola’s vice-president.

Vicente later became embroiled in a great deal of financial controversy – dubbed Operation Fizz – and to this day is known as “the irritant” that threatened to complicate Portugal’s political relations with Angola.

Ways were found to circumnavigate the irritation (click here), but now that Luanda Leaks has blown another hole in Angola’s reputation, focus is on any kind of financial anomaly – and the situation of Francisco de Lemos José Maria appears to fall into this category.

The AT tax authority impounded José Maria’s bank accounts in Portugal late last year, leading to his lawyers lodging an ‘impugnation’ through the courts, arguing that the tax “is not due”.

The controversy centres on the sale of shares José Maria had in “various investment funds”.

He will have purchased the shares pre-2015, and when he sold them he purportedly “failed to declare the sale to the tax authorities”.

José Maria – who in his role at Sonangol also sat on the board of Millennium bank – was duly notified at the address he had given as his own (one at which reports suggest he actually never lived) and when he didn’t reply, his bank accounts were ‘seized’.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, the situation is simply “another episode in the troubled relations between Portugal and Angola”.

Meantime, headlines centring on Luanda Leaks have seen Angolan president José Lourenço stress that reports claiming Isabel dos Santos is negotiating the return of her allegedly stolen millions with authorities in Angola are “completely false”.

Lourenço told Deutsche Welle Africa: “People involved in these type of acts of corruption have a six-month grace period to return the resources they have unduly taken out of the country. For anyone who doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity, the consequences that may come are entirely their own responsibility. This grace-period ended in December 2018. Today we are in February of 2020. The possibility of negotiation is out of the question, quite apart from the fact that cases lodged in the courts are non-negotiable outside of them”.

In the same interview, Lourenço explained that any question of going after former Angolan heads of State – which include Manuel Vicente – over acts of corruption exposed by Luanda Leaks has to bear in mind that Angola’s Constitution affords these people five years of immunity.

On other matters connected to Angola, the residents of a Cascais neighbourhood, close to the capital, were shocked to learn this weekend that the body of a businessman “with a past marked by judicial cases of frauds linked to Angola” had been discovered badly-battered in his home.

Police believe the man was set upon by people he must have known (as there was no sign of forced entry) on Friday night.

The body was discovered late on Sunday.

PJ detectives are now trawling through CCTV images to see if there are any clues as to the assailants’ identities.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com