Portugal slapped with €5.3 billion lawsuit over Angola diamond mine

State-funded diamond exploration in Angola has already cost Portuguese taxpayers more than €28.1 million, but now a €5.3 billion lawsuit has come into the mix complicating matters even further.

SML – standing for Sociedade Mineira do Lucapa – is the firm that was jointly funded by the Portuguese State, through the Sociedade Portuguesa de Empreendimentos (49%) and Angola’s national diamond company Endiama (51%).

Since 2011 the two entities have been in a legal battle – with SPE claiming costs last year alone topped €690,000.

The battle is understood to centre on failure of SPE to fully explore the mine which Endiama has since relinquished to another company.

According to an exclusive report in Correio da Manhã, Endiama has formally presented a case against SPE, alleging that it caused the technical and financial collapse of SML by not pressing ahead with investments or supplying technological knowledge or training to local Angolans.

The problems all started at the beginning of Portugal’s drive towards austerity. The question now is how to tackle the lawsuit.

For the time being, the court in Luanda is understood to have vetoed Portugal’s suggestions for arbitrators in the dispute.

Names put forward so far were lawyer and Público columnist José Miguel Júdice and TV personality and presidential candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

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