$32bn missing from Angola - HRW

2011-12-21 22:16

Johannesburg - Angola's government must account for a staggering $32bn missing from state coffers in a country where most suffer immense poverty despite the nation's massive oil wealth, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The revelation comes the same week that Angola announced yet another huge offshore oil find and after deals were signed on Tuesday with seven major oil companies to drill there.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the missing money was identified by the International Monetary Fund in a December report and is believed to be linked to Angola's state oil company Sonangol.

It includes $7.1bn transferred into escrow accounts overseas and $24.9bn that appear as "an unexplained discrepancy in government accounts".

The IMF said the money disappeared between 2007 and 2010 from Angola, Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, and amounts to 25% of the country's gross domestic product.


Human Rights Watch previously had identified more than $4bn in oil revenues that went missing from Angolan government accounts between 1997 and 2002. That money never was recovered.

Telephone calls from South Africa and Portugal did not go through on Wednesday to the office of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, his spokesperson Mario Jorge or to the press office of the state oil company Sonangol.

In the past, Angola's Finance Ministry has denied that the southern African country has a major corruption and embezzlement problem.

Transparency International, the coalition that fights corruption, ranked Angola in the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world this year.

The missing money was found as a result of reforms that were instituted among the conditions for an IMF loan of $1.4bn - a paltry amount compared to the massive discrepancy.

"Angola's government has taken credit for improving transparency over its oil revenues and auditing the state oil company," said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"But the disappearance of $32bn raises serious questions about its efforts and underscores the need for public accountability."

Poverty line

Angop, the state news agency, on Wednesday quoted Sonangol CEO Manuel Vicente as saying that the latest find in Angola's Kwanza Basin seabed means the country is "entering a new era" in the oil market.

Norway's Statoil company compared the latest discovery to one off Brazil that has yielded major amounts of the high-quality light oil that is most prized.

Statoil's senior vice president for exploration, Erling Vagnes, described it as "some of the best unexplored acreage left on the planet".

More than half of Angola's population lives below the international poverty line, child and maternal deaths are among the highest in the world and 30% of children are malnourished, according to the UN Children's Fund. Healthcare is limited or nonexistent in many rural areas.

The country still is recovering from a 27-year-long civil war that ended in 2002. Even today, only 77% of children attend primary school and just 21% attend high school, according to a US State Department report that cited long lists of human rights abuses.

Dos Santos has ruled the country since 1979 and appears intent on retaining power through constitutional reforms in 2010 that abolished direct presidential elections.

Instead, the president will be the head of the political party that garners the most votes, and dos Santos' party has a stranglehold on power.

  • Bob - 2011-12-21 23:16

    It's an autocratically ruled African country….what do you expect!

      Amanda - 2011-12-22 03:01

      The leaders live large whilst their own people starve. Sound familiar ANC?

      Walter - 2011-12-22 07:10

      Check the long time serving president's bank account, and probably his mate's, Bob Mugab....... it'll but somewhere in south-east Asia.

      Thando - 2011-12-22 12:44

      Its not just the leaders - most of that money is in China. China has exploited Angola to the extreme and nothing was done about it. They are helping themselves to the natural resources there as well. Why can't the United Nations stop the Chinese rape of Africa ?

  • Oneant - 2011-12-21 23:32

    one day, when this all comes crashing down, it will be these fat, greedy men, who will die first.

      Malcolm - 2011-12-22 07:41

      I don't think these guys know how much they steal. They think $32 Bil is $32 k. I don't think it crosses their mind that they, their children and grand children will never use up all the money. It all boils down to GREED!!

      Paul - 2011-12-22 08:10

      Problem is Oneant, they have crashed down years ago and are struggling to get up on one knee. There is nothing to crash. From Angola look east or north and see if you can find a thriving democracy. Well, perhaps if you sell arms or illegal diamonds. Can you hear the bells that are ringing for all of us in SA when we look and the corrupt ANC. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!

  • Jay - 2011-12-21 23:58

    News 24, So what is News? Every African State has Billions of Dollars Missing due to Corruption. Prove me Wrong. SA too is well on course. I Rest My Case.

  • Van - 2011-12-22 00:09

    Was zoomer not there?

  • Chaapo - 2011-12-22 01:08

    What's new in Africa? That is why the leaders hang on - to steal with impunity with the connivance of countries offering secret accounts. This Dos Santos is the new Mobutu of Zaire whose personal wealth was reputedly close to to the debt of the country.

      Malcolm - 2011-12-22 06:44

      Mobuto Sese Seku is nothing in front of Dos Santos. I blame the stupid people who have been brain-washed to keep these people in power. Dos Santos distributes t-shirts and wheel-barrows to the people during elections, and they seriously think he is doing a world of good for them. A bunch of fools.

  • braamc - 2011-12-22 04:16

    The amount probably not much different in SA as either been stolen, corruption committed and wasteful spending, all tax payers money, the money is running out, the people have more poverty.

  • Errol - 2011-12-22 07:32

    Viva la Africa!!!!

  • sean.redmond3 - 2011-12-22 07:59

    Copy cats, you guys also suck.

  • igno1 - 2011-12-22 08:16

    Ha, sounds like our goverment where R32bn disappeared

  • Gwen - 2011-12-22 09:00

    Hush... Everytime I hear those words in private talks, people Hush immediately. Did you hear them too? Rumors say that just the rich people know all about it. Just do a G00GLE search for "BlueGoldHunt" all one word and click the first site that comes up.

  • Americo - 2011-12-22 09:05

    Is that all you have found?? This is just a drop in the ocean.

  • frans.grobler3 - 2011-12-22 10:08

    Aaaaag that is nothing! come to SA then you will see corruption

  • Freddie - 2011-12-22 10:35

    These oil countries are a law unto themselves.

  • Cheryl - 2011-12-22 11:19

    African Economic 'Freedom' ....

  • Cheryl - 2011-12-22 11:23

    Zuma visited his 'comrade ' just recently. 'Funny' how he is attracted to these people (Gadaffi, Mugabe etc). Like a fly to sh..t.....

  • FerretGee - 2011-12-22 12:02

    Must be "The African Way" that JZ was talking about yesterday!!

  • Mark - 2011-12-22 16:38

    This is a revolting state of affairs! Words fail me.

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