The growing political scandal in France since the arrest of President dos Santos’ weapons “facilitator” Pierre Falcone on December 2nd is but the tip of the iceberg of a gruesome tale of money laundering and state robbery at the expense of the long-suffering Angolan people. Far from being simply another French corruption scandal, the real story is wide reaching and involves international oil companies, off-shore financial centres, international banks, highest level French and Angolan officials and is ultimately about how the Angolan war has been privatised to the benefit of the elite.
It is clear that Pierre Falcone’s “disquettes” provide considerable detail about the “contracts” that were established in the course of the early years of his involvement in Angola, after 1993. A letter to President dos Santos allegedly indicates that a certain “Robert” was paid US$450,000 - Pierre Falcone’s telephone book apparently suggests that “Robert” is non other than Jean-Charles Marchiani, who has denied everything, stating that this was a “defence and a security matter”. Global Witness would suggest that this is a totally inadequate explanation and that Mr Marchiani should fully clarify his role and that of his former boss, Mr Charles Pasqua (then French Interior Minister) with the operations of Pierre Falcone.
In addition to this morning’s arrest of Jean-Christophe Mitterand, various other individuals have been arrested and interviewed by the French “Financial Brigade”. These include the Director of Brenco International Jerome Mulard and Pierre Falcone’s secretary. Another key individual involved with the Falcone/Angola operation was Russian businessman Arkadi Gaidamak, for whom the French authorities issued an international arrest warrant on December 6th. Gaidamak, of course, claims his innocence and has gone to ground, seemingly escaping the clutches of the authorities. It will be very interesting to see the results of investigations into the numerous business operations of Mr Gaidamak.
So far, press coverage seems to have focused on two main arms shipments that took place in the early 1990’s. However, Global Witness believes that these arrangements were the prelude to a process that has led to the “privatisation” of the Angolan conflict and to increasing levels of kick-backs, which have continued, to the present day, where the current scale of state robbery appears to be easily a competition for Abacha’s Nigeria and Mobutu’s Zaire. The structure of these operations is very complex and it is clear that there are many unanswered questions. Global Witness believes the following points should be considered:
1. President Chirac should clarify if he has had any role in this affair - in particular, what if any relationship he has with Falcon Oil (Panama) - a Paris based company with connections to Pierre Falcone and equity partner in Exxon Mobil’s Angolan oil Block 33.
2. Exxon Mobil should clarify publicly what they know about Falcon Oil (Panama).
3. What is the connection between Falcon Oil (Panama) and Prodev, the latter being an equity partner in TotalFinaElf’s Angolan oil Block 32.
4. Investigators should look into the activities of CADA - Companhia Angolana de Distribuicao Alimentar - a subsidiary of Brenco International. CADA has numerous offices offices in London and the British Virgin Islands. Sources indicate that the company has had more than US$ 1 billion pass through its accounts during 2000.
5. Investigators should also look into the activities of ARGO - a Sao Paulo, Brasil based company, which is also a subsidiary of Brenco International and which is involved in the supply of food to the Angolan Armed Forces.
6. President dos Santos should explain why he gave Angolan citizenship to Pierre Falcone and Arkadi Gaidamak, and made them signatories (according to Mr Gaidamak) of secret accounts at Banque Paribas.
7. President dos Santos should explain his relationship with Brenco International, CADA, ARGO and the delivery of arms supplies financed from loans provided by Paribas against future oil production.
8. President dos Santos should ensure that the revenues which were derived from the oil backed loan/arms trade process should be fully audited and the results made public.
Press Release / Dec. 22, 2000