from PEDRO AGOSTO in Luanda, Angola
LUANDA, (CAJ News) – REVELATIONS that authorities in France are investigating senior officials of the Angolan government following the discovery of evidence of impropriety in the awarding of contracts to a French company are a serious dent to the purported fight against corruption by the Angolan government.
The Minister of Energy and Water, João Batista Borges, is at the centre of investigations into money laundering, tax evasion and corruption after evidence of wrongdoing by French group Eiffage Genie Civil, which was awarded contracts by the ministry.
This week, it emerged French National Police are investigating an alleged network of illegal payments by Eiffage Genie Civil to senior officials of the Angolan Ministry of Energy and Water.
The alleged kickbacks are believed to have been in exchange for favours.
Also fingered in the controversy is Ricardo Borges, said to be the nephew of the minister.
Allegations of impropriety stem from information that several bogus contracts were detected between companies with no visible commercial activity and companies to which the Ministry of Energy and Water had awarded contracts, such as AMBERGOL.
AMBERGOL describes itself as a company dedicated to the construction, maintenance and operation of electrical, water and sanitation installations and hiring.
One of the companies identified as receiving these payments is Plurienergia, owned by Ricardo Borges.
It is alleged Plurienergia received a payment of US$126 000 from AMBERGOL. The payment invoice shows the address as a house belonging to Minister Borges.
Other companies sucked into the scandal are obscure firms such as GRD, to numerous service contracts have allegedly been awarded without public tender.
Another is Joel & Filhos Limitada, which investigators believe has been doing services for the Ministry of Energy despite not fulfilling the legal requirements to apply for public tenders.
Minister Borges is not new to controversy.
He was accused of bribery attempts in a contentious deal that saw the United States-based firm, APR Energy, suing the Angolan government to the tune of $45 million.
This followed a botched contract for a major power generation project for the capital, Luanda.
Borges becomes the latest high-ranking official to be indicted abroad for corruption, following a court in the former colonial master, Portugal, ruling that former Vice President, Manuel Vicente should face trial over bribery allegations brought against him by a prosecutor in February 2017, after he was accused of bribing a magistrate with $810 000 in order to shelve investigations into his deals at oil company Sonangol Group.
Vicente is an advisor to President Joao Lourenco.
Lourenco came to power in 2017 with a pledge to combat corruption, which is a legacy of his predecessor, Eduardo Jose dos Santos.
– CAJ News