Press Release / Dec. 13, 2001

Financial analysts reveal Angolan Government’s shameful secret. Where are the ‘missing billions’?

Reuters in Luanda reported yesterday that US$1.5 billion in oil revenues, over one-third of Angola’s US$3-5 billion in total income - went missing last year.

The oil money, which comprises some 87% of the war-torn country’s total income, appears to have vanished into a ‘black hole’ between state oil company Sonangol, the Treasury and the Presidency. The IMF uncovered the missing billions in its Oil Diagnostic Programme, which is comparing revenue reported as paid by the oil companies operating in the country – currently, mainly from TotalFinaElf and Chevron-Texaco - with the money that actually appeared on the Government’s books.

The highly-corrupt Angolan government, which was exposed in last year’s ‘Angolagate’ oil-for-arms scandal, which saw enormous kickbacks to top officials, has been caught out again. Global Witness, which published a landmark report into corruption in the Government’s management of petroleum revenues in 1999, now calls for an end to the conspiracy of silence over this issue.

“Information in our possession shows that highest level individuals connected to the Presidency – Angola’s “Oligarchy” – loot cash from oil revenues and international loans guaranteed by oil off the back off arms trafficking and the military procurement process. The war has been privatised. We think the international community will find the missing billions in a myriad of off-shore accounts, courtesy of the international banking system”, said Global Witness director Simon Taylor.

International oil companies and banks that continue to do business in Angola, operating with a complete lack of transparency, and hence accountability, are complicit in this situation. The oil and banking sector refuse to release any public information about the magnitude of their payments to the State, making it impossible for civil society to hold the Angolan Government to account over misappropriation of state assets.

“The missing billions show a new dimension to the humanitarian disaster in the country. Compare the size of the missing funds with the US$200 million that the UN barely scraped together to feed the country’s one million internally displaced people”, added Mr. Taylor.

Please contact Simon Taylor or Gavin Hayman on +44 (0)7957 142121 or +44 (0)20 7272 6731.

Editor’s notes:
(1) Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption.

(2) In December 1999, Global Witness published ‘A Crude Awakening’ – an exposé of corruption in Angola and an examination of the complicity of the oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets. ‘A Crude Awakening’ highlighted a central set of characters - Angola’s ‘Oiligarchy’ - who may be responsible misappropriating Angola’s oil revenues.

(3) Under Angolan Law No 13/78 “all deposits of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons … belong to the Angolan People, in the form of State property.” Thus, it is outrageous that companies do not tell ordinary Angolan citizens what money their resources raise.