He has been refuting the allegations since they were first mooted, but this week Angolan vice president Manuel Domingues Vicente heard that Portuguese prosecutors are bringing corruption, money laundering and forgery charges against him anyway.
According to a statement released by the Attorney General’s office on Thursday, the charges date back to when Vicente was the head of Angolan State oil company Sonangol.
In a Portuguese investigation with the unlikely name of ‘Operation Fizz’, Vicente is implicated along with his Portuguese legal and financial representatives and Portuguese magistrate Orlando Figueira - jailed almost a year ago (click here).
Reuters news agency claims the Attorney General’s office “will notify Angola about the charges and ask for its cooperation”, but it is not clear whether it expects to be successful.
Vicente’s whereabouts are not immediately known, reports AFP news agency, while Reuters stresses that he is “seen as a possible successor to President José Eduardo dos Santos” who is due to retire next year.
Angola has already “branded previous attempts by Portugal to investigate Vicente as ‘neo-colonialism’ and ‘revenge by the former colonial master’, Reuters adds.
Portuguese news agency Lusa appears to be the only news source that has managed a comment from any of the accused. It quotes Vicente’s lawyer Patrício as saying he is “astounded” by the development, not only because his client “had nothing to do with the facts mentioned but also because he has never even been questioned about them”.
Operation Fizz rests on Vicente bribing Figueira into ensuring that two investigations into tax fraud were dropped.
Figueira is suspected of receiving at least €700,000 to shelve the inquiries. He was arrested almost a year ago, at which point Vicente said everything “presented by various media organs” about his alleged involvement were “completely without foundation”.