New Era

Angolan ex-minister jailed for 14 years

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LUANDA - A former Angolan minister was yesterday handed a 14-year prison sentence for graft during his tenure, the latest conviction in a string of corruption prosecutio­ns involving the ex-regime.

President Joao Lourenco has been on an anti-corruption campaign against politician­s and businessme­n operating under the auspices of his predecesso­r Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Ex-communicat­ions minister Manuel Rabelais was arrested in October for allegedly embezzling around US$117 million in 2016 and 2017, using a marketing firm he headed to siphon off the money.

On Monday, he was found guilty and jailed to 14-and-a-half years for embezzleme­nt and money laundering, the verdict said. Rabelais has denied any wrong doing.

He is the second ex-minister to be convicted for corruption since Lourenco took power in 2017.

Former transport minister Augusto da Silva Tomas was also found guilty of graft in 2019 and handed a 14-year prison sentence.

Dos Santos appointed relatives and friends to key positions during his graft-tainted 38-year rule, leaving the southweste­rn African country with a legacy of poverty and nepotism.

Lourenco has since vowed to redress the economy and root out graft, targeting mainly his predecesso­r’s family and associates in the process.

The ex-president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos - nicknamed “Zenu” landed five years in prison in August for diverting oil revenues from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

He was sentenced alongside the former central bank governor and two others.

Dos Santos’ first daughter Isabel, once Africa’s richest woman, is meanwhile being probed for a long list of crimes including mismanagem­ent, embezzleme­nt and money laundering during her stewardshi­p of Sonangol.

All have repeatedly denied the allegation­s. The former first family accuse Lourenco of unfairly targeting them for political reasons.

Only a small elite benefited from Angola’s vast oil and mineral reserves during the tenure of dos Santos, who has moved overseas along with most of his relatives.

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