One of the vineyards in the Douro linked to Angolan general Kopelipa

US freezes assets of Angolan generals with ‘millions invested in Portugal’

In step with International Anti-Corruption Day yesterday the United States announced that it has frozen all the assets on American territory of two Angolan generals.

Both men have millions invested in Portugal.

General ‘Kopelipa’ (real name Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Jr) is a former public official, and businessman with “close ties” to former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. These ties include the fact that he is actually married to the former president’s daughter Tchizé.

In 2014, the general’s net worth was estimated at close to $3 billion.

General ‘Dino’ (real name Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento) was a former head of Eduardo dos Santos’ Communication Service.

In Portugal, ‘Kopelipa’ is the 3rd largest shareholder in a company called Big Bang, and the owner of, or closely connected to, various properties in the Douro valley, as well as luxury apartments in Lisbon and Cascais.

His private jet is often parked on the tarmac at Lisbon’s Tires aerodrome, writes Correio da Manhã.

‘Dino’ also has a number of real estate investments in Portugal, namely in Estoril.

He was also associated with Banco Espírito Santo Angola – the bank that appeared to have lost around €4 billion when its ‘mother ship’ went down in 2014 (click here).

Portugal’s press today recalls that ‘at the end of 2019’ , PJ police managed to block a transfer from Dino’s account at Millennium/BCP here to Russia – allegedly because it was going to a company owned by former African first daughter Isabel dos Santos (another figure no longer ‘welcome’ in the United States).

In all, the updated black list includes the names not only of Kopelipa and Dino, but all their family members.

The US ban also prohibits any US citizens from dealing with either of the Angolan generals.

A document cited by CM today, shows the American Treasury department believes both men “stole billions of dollars from the Angolan government through embezzlement”, and “conspired with other individuals” to channel the money into various projects, including some that existed in name only (ie ghost projects).

The measures brought also freeze 50% of all assets of all people ‘directly or indirectly connected to Kopelipa or Dino’.

All this, on an international day focused on fighting corruption in which Portugal’s contribution has been much less dramatic.

Yes, the country has approved an ‘anti-corruption strategy’, but it has been rather trashed by former Attorney General Joana Marques Vidal – the only figure so far occupying this post in living memory who has been seen as having done anything significant towards the combat of corruption in Portugal.

Her exact words yesterday were that the new strategy – over which outgoing Justice minister Francisca Van Dunem has professed optimism – is “lacking in ambition” and “needs revision”.

“We need a new strategy that goes a great deal further”, said Ms Marques Vidal.

As is the won’t of information dissemination today, more focus was placed on the ‘successes’ Portugal has had in terms of combating corruption this year (namely stopping 198 dubious banking transactions, seen to have been attempting to launder around €42 million, as well as quite a few others believed to have been designed to finance terrorism). 

The ‘grey areas’ involving private jets coming in and out of the country, transporting alleged plunderers of a bankrupted nation’s wealth, for now, remain overlooked in plain sight.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com