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Lusa - Business News - Angola: Swiss authorities suspend cooperation with Angola in Carlos São Vicente case

Geneva,Sept.21,2022(Lusa)-Lawyers for Angolan businessman Carlos São Vicente said on Wednesday that a Swiss court has ordered the suspension of cooperation with the Angolan judicial authorities due to the lack of impartiality in the judicial process against their client.
"The Supreme Court decided that the Swiss authorities could not cooperate with Angola before assessing the possibility and effectiveness of obtaining several diplomatic guarantees from the country, particularly with regard to the independence and impartiality of the courts and compliance with the procedural rights of Carlos Sao Vicente," said a statement sent to Lusa by the businessman's lawyers.
In the statement, the lawyers for Sao Vicente, who in March was sentenced in Luanda to nine years in prison and a fine of US$500 million, or roughly the same amount in euros, for the crimes of embezzlement, money laundering and fraud, also wrote: "This is a historic decision, as the Swiss Supreme Court recognises that there are serious doubts about Mr Sao Vicente's right to a fair trial in Angola.
The Swiss court's decision, consulted by Lusa, "partially" accepts the appeal lodged by Sao Vicente against the Swiss sentence, of 23 May of this year, but rejects the request to unfreeze the Angolan businessman's bank accounts.
São Vicente "hopes that other countries will follow the path opened by the Swiss Supreme Court and refuse to cooperate with the irregular procedures followed by the Angolan authorities," the lawyers wrote in the note announcing the decision, dated 30 August.
Carlos São Vicente has been held in custody since September 2020 and the crimes charged to him, according to the Angolan accusation, involved amounts of over 1 billion euros, although in the sentence handed down the Swiss judges talked of an "estimated amount of over US$4 billion" in funds diverted due to the convicted businessman's business activities.
The businessman, who for almost two decades had a monopoly on insurance and reinsurance for Angolan state oil company Sonangol, is said to have set up a triangular scheme, with companies in Angola, London and Bermuda, which led to losses for the Angolan treasury.
With this scheme, and according to the same document, Carlos São Vicente, owner of one of the biggest private business groups in Angola at the time, also managed not to share profits from the insurance and reinsurance business with other co-insurers, such as public insurer ENSA, thus damaging those companies, as well as Sonangol itself.
According to the accusation, Carlos São Vicente created from a certain time onwards a "kind of business with himself, within the AAA group [of which he was the owner], causing the embezzlement of public funds".
The charges and the "excessive pre-trial detention" were repeatedly contested by the defence, which promised in March it would appeal against the sentence handed down by the 3rd Criminal Section of the Luanda District Court.

Agency : LUSA

Date : 2022-09-22 11:42:00


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