Portugal caves to Angolan general’s demand for return of seized millions

Angolan general Bento dos Santos Kangamba has won an important victory, seeing Lisbon’s court of appeal order the immediate return of his “missing millions” seized by DCIAP police investigators in October last year.

According to the two female judges, Portugal “does not have the competence to investigate crimes practised in Angola” and therefore it cannot confiscate money on the basis that it may or may not have been obtained illegally.

The ruling sees the unfreezing of a number of bank accounts, and should involve the return of over €2.6 million in cash.

As widely reported by national media, Bento dos Santos – married to a niece of Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos – explained he kept the money at his “various homes in the Lisbon area” because he did not trust Portuguese banks.

DCIAP investigators instigated their inquiries following news from Brazil “which linked the Angolan general to a prostitution ring” and news from France which had “detected people linked to the general transporting thousands of euros in the direction of Monaco”, reports Diário de Notícias.

But the appeal court duo ruled that Portugal’s zeal “went against the principle of ‘ne bis in idem’ (no-one should be judged more than once for the same crime).

And if the Public Ministry wanted to argue that the origin of the money could stem from money-laundering in Angola, that too was a matter beyond Portugal’s “competence”.

As DN pointed out judges Margarida Vieira de Almeida and Maria da Luz Batista explained that “for Bento dos Santos’ accounts to be frozen, the request should have come from French, Brazilian or Angolan authorities”.

For now, the general’s reaction to the return of his frozen fortune is unexplained – but it is unlikely find him “laughing all the way to the bank” – at least, not a bank in Portugal.

[email protected]