JOSE Filomeno dos Santos, son of former Angolan President has been sentenced to five years in prison over embezzlement when he was head of the oil-rich nation’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.
The Angolan Supreme Court on Friday handed the sentence after he was found guilty of stealing up to $1.5 billion while managing the $5 billion fund between 2013 and 2018.
The 42-year-old was charged with stealing $500 million from the fund and transferring it to a Swiss bank account.
He is the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part of an anti-corruption campaign led by Angola’s current President, Joao Lourenço.
The presiding judge, Joao da Cruz Pitra in his ruling said, Dos Santos who is also known as “Zenu” used his influence to perpetuate the crime.
“For the crime of fraud… and for the crime of peddling influence… the legal cumulus condemns him to a single sentence of five years in prison,” he said.
There were three co-defendants involved in the case, who include the former governor of the national bank of Angola (BNA) Valter Filipe da Silva, who was also sentenced to between four and six years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling.
However, they were acquitted of money-laundering charges, a charge they had previously denied.
In February, Angolan investigators froze the assets and bank accounts of Zenu’s billionaire half-sister Isabel dos Santos.
She is being probed for a long list of crimes in Angola, including mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering during her stewardship of the state-run oil giant Sonangol.
Lourenco is believed to have targeted his corruption campaign at the family members of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who appointed relatives and friends to key positions during his 38-year rule, according to a BBC report.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.