Does Angola’s recent government reshuffle, especially the appointment of a new finance minister, offer the promise that the Government will finally place its oil income into the public domain?
Currently, there is no transparency over Angola’s oil income and highest-level individuals connected to the Presidency – “the Oiligarchy” – loot the countries lucrative oil revenues and oil-backed bank loans. International oil companies working in Angola are complicit in this looting because they refuse to release any public information about their payments to the state, making it impossible for Angolan civil society to know how much money is going missing.
Global Witness’ investigations in Angola over the past two years have uncovered that at least US$1 billion per year for the last five years – about a third of state income - appears to have been misappropriated from the state’s coffers. This money is some three-times the value of the international humanitarian aid that currently keeps about 10% of Angola’s citizens alive. These allegations have since been supported by official IMF documents leaked to the BBC.
The Angolan Government consistently stated that, due to the recent war, it lacks the capacity to monitor its oil income properly. However, the sophistication of the offshore financial banking structures connected to Angolan oil money give the lie to this alleged lack of capacity. A recent report by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists in the US showed part of the US$60 million signature bonuses paid to Angola by Texas-based Marathon Oil for its share in two new oil blocks was parked in Jersey before being moved into other offshore accounts.
New Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade dos Santos Nando said in an introductory speech yesterday that measures will now be taken in Angola to "improve governance and make it more transparent” and that “we are going to show with practical results that there is going to be transparency". His reputation is now on the line.
“Ministers may change but the Angolan Government’s terrible record of oil governance threatens to remain the same. Angola can easily afford to house, clothe, feed and educate its people yet over one in three children born in Angola die of preventable causes and over a million people are dependent on international food aid. If this new post-war cabinet is really going to deliver change, then it must make transparent and accountable management of Angola’s oil wealth its number one priority”, said Global Witness Director Simon Taylor.
Please contact Simon Taylor or Gavin Hayman on +44 (0)7957 142121 or +44 (0)20 7272 6731.
(1) Global Witness focuses on the role of natural resources in funding conflict and corruption and was nominated last week for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. In Angola, Global Witness has previously highlighted how the traffic of conflict diamonds funds UNITA’s continued insurgency as well as questioning management of oil revenues by the Government.
(2) Global Witness’ March 2002 report on oil and corruption in Angola, ‘All the Presidents’ Men. The Devastating Story of Oil and Banking in Angola’s Privatised War ’ is available in English, Portuguese and French from the Global Witness website – http://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/oil/index.html.
(3) Despite earning around US$3-5 billon from oil last year (an estimated 87% of state revenue), social and economic development in Angola has continued to deteriorate. The latest figures from the UN show that three-quarters of the population are forced to survive in absolute poverty on less than one dollar a day; over 30% of all children die before reaching the age of five and one child now dies of preventable diseases and malnutrition every three minutes (480 every day); overall life expectancy is a mere 45 years; and some 1.5 million people are dependent on international food aid.
(4) Major oil companies operating in Angola are: Chevron-Texaco, TotalFinaElf and ExxonMobil, BP-Amoco, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Shell, Agip, Petrobras and Petrogal. BP-Amoco created a precedent on transparency in February 2001 by stating that it will publish what its pays in Angola. So far, no information has been provided to date regarding tax payments to the Angolan Government from the company’s shareholding in Angola’s Block 17, which commenced commercial operations in December 2001.
(5) The October 2002 report ‘Greasing the Skids of Corruption’ by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists is available at:
(6) Global Witness is a member of the Publish What You Pay coalition, that is calling for regulations to require international resource extraction companies to disclose publicly their net revenues paid to every government to promote democratic debate in country over the management of that income. See www.publishwhatyoupay.org.
Press Release / Dec. 10, 2002