diamonds.jpg

Probe queries ‘bargain-basement’ sale of State shares in Angolan diamond mines

A long-running wrangle over Portugal’s interest in Angolan diamond mines is back in the news today, this time centring on the “mysterious” sale pushed through by the last (PSD) government, four days before it was ousted from power by the current left-wing alliance.

According to an inquiry mounted by national tabloid Correio da Manhã, the sale lost the State “almost 30 million euros”.

It involved selling Portugal’s interest in three diamond mines – one well below the price fixed by valuers – in exchange for a judicial amnesty on “all court and arbitration actions ongoing in this conflict”.

As the paper explained earlier in the year, the Portuguese government was facing a €5.3 billion lawsuit (click here) – thus this may well be the reason for the rushed sale.

But Luís de Sousa of TIAC (the civil association for transparency) insists the deal was brokered “in an opaque way” involving “political relationships” that were not “scrutinised for conflicts of interest”.

Sousa has told CM that this case is simply yet another in which TIAC believes public interest was not “safeguarded”.

CM claims it has tried to clarify matters with former PM Pedro Passos Coelho, but that this was “not possible” within the paper’s press deadline.

What adds to the intrigue is that “valuable stones” have been found in Angola since the State sold its interests, says CM, and Parpública – the entity in charge of the Portuguese company which sold its shares – “is not clarifying the criteria used to fix the sale price”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com