Ex-president’s son to bag 7 years jail term for allegedly embezzling $500 million

Prosecutors on Tuesday sought a seven-year jail sentence for the son of the former Angola president Jose Eduardo dos Santos for allegedly embezzling $500 million from state coffers.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, 42, was summoned before Angola’s Supreme Court in December over allegations he tried to steal as much as $1.5 billion (1.3 euros) from the sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Nicknamed “Zenu”, he was charged with pilfering $500 million (445 million euros) from the fund — alongside the former governor of the national bank of Angola (BNA), Valter Filipe da Silva, and two others.

The funds were alleged transferred to the funds to a Swiss bank during the dos Santos presidency.

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All four have denied the accusations.

Deputy attorney-general Pascoal Joaquim asked judges to sentence Zenu and one collaborator to seven years in prison and hand the other two a 10-year sentence.

“Since the beginning, the defendants have always had the intention to bypass the Angolan state,” Joaquim told the court in the capital Luanda.

Zenu is the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part an anti-corruption campaign lead by President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017

His predecessor led Angola for 38 years, leaving a legacy of poverty and nepotism in a country still recovering from a 1975-2002 civil war.

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Zenu was appointed head of the $5 billion fund in 2013, 34 years into his father’s reign.

His half-sister Isabel dos Santos was ousted from her position as chair of the state oil giant Sonangol in November 2017.

Cited by Forbes magazine as the richest woman in Africa, she is accused of diverting billions of dollars from state companies during the dos Santos presidency — allegations she has vehemently denied.

In December a court in Luanda issued a “preventative” order to freeze her business assets as part of the investigation.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lourenco reiterated his intention to combat graft.

“Over the past two years we have done a lot and the evidence is there,” the president told members of his ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party.

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“The authors are paying for the crimes they committed, which is different to what has been done… since independence.”

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