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New revelations about the Odebrecht bribery cases in Angola

The president João Lourenço received $15 million from Odebrecht to further facilitate the company’s presence in Angola.

21 Aoû 2019    

This information was exposed by a Brazilian journalist: The Operation Lava Jato is considered the largest corruption investigation in Brazil.

Odebrecht used Swiss accounts to bribe African politicians and military officials.

Secret swiss accounts were used by the Brazilian construction company Norberto Odebrecht to distribute millions of dollars to senior officials of the new Angola’s government. 

The information comes from the official Swiss court documents. It reveals that despite being investigated under the Operation Lava Jato, one of the members of the Angolan government of the current president Joao Lourenco, was not the only to receive money from corruption… 

It took only the investigation of Carlos Panzo by the Brazilian federal police to discover that one of the various bank accounts of Joao Lourenço, President of Angola had been blocked in Switzerland.

Secret accounts in Switzerland were used by Brazilian construction company Norberto Odebrecht to distribute millions of dollars to the senior officials on the government of Angola.

Despite being investigated under the Operation Lava Jato, one of the members of the Angolan government, Carlos Panzo, not only continued to keep his job, but got even promoted. 

Over the years, Panzo had held various positions within the cabinet of the former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, mainly in the finance area. In 2009, he was the director of the macroeconomic monitoring office of the Ministry of Economy, coordinator of the Housing Fund Management Committee and chairman of the Fiscal Council of Sonangol. In 2012, Panzo was in Brasilia to prepare the visit of the Angolan Finance Minister, Carlos Alberto Lopes, who would meet with the then Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Fernando Pimentel, and the Minister of Finance, Guido Mantega. At the time, he was the director of the Public Debt Unit at the Ministry of Finance. Officially, Panzo sought Brazil’s financial support for energy, infrastructure and industry reconstruction projects.

In December 2016, while the US Department of Justice announced broad allegations against Odebrecht, Panzo was appointed as executive director of the Angola Development Bank (BDA).

That same month, the US Department of Justice pointed out that between 2006 and 2013 Odebrecht had paid bribes of more than $ 50 million to members of the Angolan government. In return, it obtained contracts estimated at $ 261 million.

However, Panzo remained part of the government in Luanda. When João Lourenço took office, ending the decades of José Eduardo dos Santos’ presidency, Panzo got new positions. In September 2017, he was nominated as secretary of state for economic affairs. 

But Panzo was subject of a money-laundering lawsuit in Switzerland and in October was discharged from his position. The suspicion is that his account was also a transit point for the money redistributed to other African politicians.

The Swiss discovered the account of an offshore whose beneficiary was Panzo. More than $ 11 millions were moved through this account alone and according to the investigation, the money was deposited by Odebrecht.

The deposits were made between 2010 and 2019 by three companies linked to the Brazilian construction company. When the account was blocked in June 2019, it contained only $ 3 million. 

Investigations reveal that Panzo would have received 1.7 million euros in 2013, for a contract obtained by Odebrecht in Angola. An Angolan military official also benefited funds from the same account. The investigation also uncovered payments done in 2015 from the same Swiss account to the son of an Angolan finance minister. 

Between 2002 and 2016, the BNDES (Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development) contracted $ 4 billion in loans with Angola, mostly for Odebrecht projects, such as the construction of the Laúca Hydropower plant. The BNDES has funded other works in Angola such as the Cambambe Hydropower Dam, the “Luanda Roads” Project, the Luena “Praça da Paz” (Peace Square), the Zango Population Resettlement Program and the Catata-Lóvua Road.

By Mussa Garcia

Afrique Media TVLe monde c'est nous.

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