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Government denounces American firm's blackmail

Luanda, ANGOLA, May 16 - Angolan authorities Thursday in Luanda termed as "political blackmail for money extortion" all actions taken by the American firm Africa Growth Corporation, aimed at damaging the Government's effort to recover the good name and international reputation.,

 

Addressing a press conference, the minister of Justice and Human Rights, Francisco Queiroz, flanked by the Republic deputy attorney general, Eduarda Rodrigues, said the Angolan authorities made it clear their stand of not bowing to the case.

 

According to the minister, this pressure started in 2017 and aims at damaging Angola’s efforts to attracting foreign private investment, “the reason why Angola cannot be indifferent to this pressure that is gaining the proportions of a blackmail.”

These “AFGC” actions, he added, followed a process of partnership with a firm owned by the Andrade family, which did not go well and of which the State is not a part.

The deal background

The parties apparently signed a contract with another construction firm by the name BLOX Construções SA, for the construction of a building which, upon completion, would be run by the builder for a ten-year period, which did not happen, as the Angolan party took possession of it, after construction.

In the process, the minister stated, there seems to have been use of violent means and power abuse on the part of one of António Andrade’s daughters (prosecutor Natacha Andrade), who acted on her own and is being held accountable under a disciplinary action and a criminal one.

For this reason, AFGC seems to consider having its commercial interests prejudiced and wants the Angolan State to back the failure of the deal estimated at about Usd 47.5 million.

According to the minister of Justice and Human Rights, it (AFGC) wants to involve the Angolan State, assuming that it would be easier to extort money from it (State) than negotiating with its Angolan private partner, or event taking legal actions against the latter.

Therefore, they designed a strategy of pressure on the Angolan Government on three fronts, being one the judicial (through a groundless action filed in the USA) , and another political, seeking to denigrate the image and reputation of Angola towards the American private investor community, international economic and financial institutions – World Bank and IMF and political authorities in this country.

The third front, Francisco Queiroz added, rests with the use of means he called “business trap”, through which it organises meetings and distorts what is going on, in favour of its cause.  

The minister stated that these actions are carried out through lobbying, for which purpose it hired one of the most active American entities in this field, and spreading fake news on national and international media, writing to entities and several other influence and opinion making means.

Legal proceedings and proposal to Government

On 12 September 2017, AFGC subsidiary firms (ILICO and AGPV) took an action with the 1st Civil Chamber of the Luanda Provincial Court, seeking to regain ownership of the building.

At the same time, the American firm AFGC took a civil action in the USA against the Angolan State, the former Republic Attorney General, João Maria de Sousa, the former Luanda governor, Higino Carneiro, general António Andrade and his son, Miguel Andrade. The last two are the Angola partners.

On 23 November 2017, the judge of the Civil Chamber of the Luanda Court made a ruling favouring the firms ILICO and AGPV, and ordered the building in respect returned to the ownership of the said firms, a move that received the backing of the National Police.

Prosecutor Natacha Andrade too was served with a disciplinary action with the Attorneyship’s Magistrates Council, in addition to an ongoing criminal proceeding for power abuse.

Despite this, the firm AFGC lost interest in the building. According to Francisco Queiróz, for reasons only it can explain, the firm afterwards proposed the Angolan Government to take the building, against a compensation to the amount of its value.

The Angolan Government turned down the proposal as it was not part of the deal and had no legal ground to use State’s funds to buy the said building, he explained.

 “Should it (Angolan Government) do that, that would amount to undue use of the Angolan State for purposes other than those intended, contrary to the aim of fighting corruption the Government has undertaken with insistence and coherence,” the official stressed.

The minister further stated that in the face of the attacks the American company has been levelling, the Angolan State hired the services of a lawyers firm in the USA to take the case before the court where the action was taken and all seems to indicate that the said court will declare itself unfit to judge the case.

Likewise, several diplomatic contacts have been made and letters sent to various entities to clarify the real situation.

Meanwhile, he argued that, aware of the likely failure of the proceedings in the USA whose ruling might be out within two to three months, AFGC has intensified its blackmailing move.

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