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Angola’s Story of Politically Exposed Persons and Debt Traps




By Fadi A. Haddadin

In its financing attempts that brought the resource-rich country to become indefinitely indebted for a long time, the Government of Angola sought a $15 billion loan from China (one of many) last May. Just as this latest round of financing commenced, Standard and Poors downgraded Angola’s sovereign credit rating to B- due to concerns about “the rising debt service costs and weak economic prospects.”

The latest move is part of another debt trap through which the new government uses oil-backed loans at high interest rates, yet financed through opaque and unaccountable offshore structures. This comes at a time when Angola’s banking sector is weak and some important state banks are undergoing restructuring processes; posing contingent risks to government.

Manuel Vicente has remained a ruthless fixture of Angolan politics for over three decades. Today, as the “most wanted by Portuguese authorities” and an advisor to Joao Lourenco (who almost made it to the Presidency), Vicente has been at the forefront of the landmark exploitation of the resource-rich Portuguese colony since his appointment as Chairman of Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol EP. By the time he left his position in 2012, Vicente had proudly created complex, personally profitable, and self-rewarding mechanisms to leverage the nation’s resources for the profit of a small cartel, spanning well-known illustrious names in Africa and the world, ranging from organized crime to Wall Street. He purposely transformed the looting which decimated the West African nation during its brutal civil war into the merciless leveraging of state assets under the guise of ‘development’ for over sixteen years (and still ongoing).

Under the leadership of Vicente, or as one would call it, “Politically Exposed Person” (PEP), Sonangol gained an unusual degree of autonomy. In the world of financial regulation, PEP is a term describing someone who has been entrusted with a prominent public function and presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of his/her position and the influence held. Vicente successfully resisted efforts of government institutions, such as the Ministry of Petroleum and the National Bank of Angola (BNA), by curbing their power and oversight functions; simply through instilling watchdogs that he would reward handsomely.

As the civil war ended in 2002, Angola’s relationships with the IMF and the World Bank had deteriorated serendipitously, with a golden opportunity that coincided with Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s initiation of his grand “Look to the West” strategy. Chinese interests in Angola were particularly attractive to Vicente (with the development of his own sphere of influence) as the offered funds had far fewer transparency requirements to traditional Western lenders. In June 2004, China Sonangol Asia Limited was formed as the first public-private consortium to turn the new geopolitical paradigm into private profits. It was registered in Hong Kong and owned entirely by Lo Fong Hung, Wi Yang, and, naturally, Manuel Vicente, unbeknownst to the then leadership. In the weeks following China Sonangol’s incorporation, Vicente and the 88 Queensway Group incorporated nine subsidiaries of China Sonangol, with Pierson Asia acting as its primary financial consultant. The firm would help Vicente and his Chinese partners to create a complex network of financial subsidiaries to extract, divert, and embezzle funds.

Vicente’s influence, along with Chinese capital, positioned these newly-created firms to dominate the finances of Angola and the majority of investments in the country through two small and nebulous companies: China International Fund Limited  (responsible for US$2.9 billion in construction projects), and, China Sonangol International Holdings Limited (responsible for the energy sector—notably obtaining three oil blocks and establishing a joint venture with Sinopec for oil exploration in Angola).

The vehicles for the embezzlement of such funds are the product of an idea developed in the 1990s, known as “prime bank schemes,” through which Vicente and his son would set up pop-up corporations for the collection and transfer of assets. The same entities would be used for the purchase of more than US$300 million in U.S. treasury bills on behalf of Angola’s national bank, Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI)—formerly Banco Africano de Investimentos—and enjoyed absolute authority to manage major portions of BNA’s funds under the direct, repeated permissions of the then-governor of Angola’s central bank, Aguinaldo Jaime (1998-2002). Jaime, in his capacity as governor, signed a “letter of authority” informing HSBC that BNA “will supply, on behalf of the Angolan Government, a US$50 million treasury bill to be used as a collateral by MSA Inc” to raise funds for Angolan ‘development projects.’ Another example of the prime bank scheme was the creation of the sister bank, HSBC Equator Bank plc in 2006—nothing to do with the HSBC that we all know—which earned in excess of US$80 million from revolving short-term trade finance lines, serviced by an assignment of oil proceeds afforded through a nebulous relationship with BAI.

The central paradox for the people of Angola is the calculus of BAI in taking on such unfavourable terms and failing to execute its fiduciary duty. This paradox is resolved when we consider the true nature and ownership of BAI, which is in fact a private bank. As per a U.S. Senate Committee investigation, in March 16, 2006, HSBC received a list of BAI’s shareholders, which included three private corporations, each of which would turn out to be a special purpose shell corporation: Arcinella Assets, Sforza Properties, and Dabas Management. BAI currently has assets with a total value of over US$7.6 billion which alerted and instigated the investigation. And following the implementation of the Patriot Act, HSBC expended its efforts to determine the true owners of BAI. The subsequent disclosure, under the PEP/anti-money laundering (AML) protection, revealed that the beneficial owner of Dabas Management is Jose Paiva (former board director of Sonangol) and the beneficial owner of the shell company, called ABL, is Manuel Vicente (PEP from 1999-2012). Today, each personally owns 5% of BAI through these special purpose corporations.

Angola continued to have weak AML controls and an ongoing corruption problem. The above history shows how an Angolan PEP (like Manuel Vicente), an Angolan government official (like Aguinaldo Jaime), and an Angolan financial institution (like BAI) have used global banks to gain access to the financial system, often bypassing AML and PEP safeguards. It shows how politically powerful officials, their relatives, and close associates (referred to in international agreements as PEPs) can use the services of global professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into different jurisdictions to advance their interests. It also clarifies the need for strengthening PEP controls to prevent such corrupt figures from concealing, protecting, and utilizing their ill-gotten gains; corroding the rule of law, national economic development, and democratic principles. U.S. and EU institutions should consult with foreign officials, international organizations, financial regulators, and experts in AML and anti-corruption efforts in order to expose some of the tactics being used by PEPs and their facilitators.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via

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Teeth Cleaning for Children and its Significance



Teeth Cleaning for Children

Teeth cleaning is really substantial, so for children as for adults. Tooth plaque and bacteria can be removed by brushing teeth and avoiding the illnesses of gums and decay of teeth. People should brush their teeth in the morning and in the evening just before falling asleep, that is twice a day.

Parents should teach their children to clean their teeth early in the morning and make teeth cleaning an indispensable part of the list of their daily must-do activities so that this habit will stay with them when they become adults.

From what age, children should start off brushing their teeth?

Commence teeth brushing once the first tooth appears, in general beyond seven months of age. First and foremost, start to apply a mild wet cloth, as well as parents, can try cleaning the teeth using water and a mild toothbrush. Teeth are extremely significant for adults and, notably, for children. Teeth aid babies in speaking and eating, so it is significant to take care of them properly from the first months of life onward. Many children do not allow cleaning their teeth as it is an unpleasant activity for them. In this case, parents are advised to try to entertain the kid with the games on smartphones, for this a vivid instance can be the casino gaming like 22Bet Nigeria. So, as the parents adore much to play, they are able to grab the attention of children by these games and clean their teeth in the meanwhile.

The pickup of the right brush and toothpaste for kids

Children under 18 months only make use of only water during tooth brushing.

From 18 months to 6 years old, apply a toothbrush with a tiny head and mild stubble. Check out the fluoride quantity on the pack of toothpaste, it should be with a low.

Teach your kid the right brushing of teeth

Cheer your children up to be engaged in the process of tooth brushing with pleasure. Support them to adopt this skill and entitle them to brush their teeth on their own. After the age of 8, kids develop the perfect motor ability required for cleaning the tooth. Nevertheless, control over the children is mandatory until parents are assured that the kids are able to succeed in this activity and many others by themselves.

After cleaning, cheer your child up to spit out the toothpaste, rather than to swallow it with water.

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Making 2023 General Elections a Rewarding One



2023 General Elections

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

The central interest of this piece is not to spot leadership faults in Nigeria or proffer solutions to what the present administration is not doing well to salvage the socio-economic well-being of the poor masses. Rather, the present piece is out to perform two separate but related functions.

First, as the nation races towards 2023 general elections, the piece x-rays the volume/strength with which foreign observers have in the past two decades raised strong voices against uncivil antics particularly the thorny transparency challenge that characterized concluded elections in Nigeria and the organized resentment it brought to the nation at the global stage/ exposed the nation to the pangs of sociopolitical challenges that prevent her from enthroning true democracy that ensures a corruption-free society.

Secondly, it is primed and positioned to find both practical and pragmatic ways Nigerians and particularly the present administration can use the forthcoming 2023 general election to correct the nation’s leadership challenge which is gravitating towards becoming a culture.

Aside from the fact that we cannot solve our socio-political challenges with the same thinking we used when we created it, the 2023 electoral project will among other things demand finding nations that have met the electoral challenges that we currently face, how they had tackled it and how successful they had become. We must admit and adopt both structural and mental changes, approaches that impose more discipline than is conventional.

Indeed, we are challenged to develop the world perspective in performing the traditional but universal responsibility which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and election of leaders confers on us, as no individual or nation can live alone and our geographical oneness has to a large extent come into being through modern man scientific ingenuity.

Again, with the amendment of the electoral Act that presently accommodates the electronic transmission of results, one can say that as a nation, we have made some political/electoral gains.

However, to help achieve electoral perfection in the country, there exists also, a study report which provides a link between the factors that impede credible election in Nigeria as well as made far-reaching measures that could pave way for development and orderliness in the nation’s political sphere.

The report was put together by the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), Lagos in partnership with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), and supported by MacArthur Foundation. It has as title; Ethics and Standards in Electoral Process in Nigeria (guiding tools/principles).

Going by the content of the report, an election is said to be credible when it is organized in an atmosphere of peace, devoid of rancour and acrimony. The outcome of such an election must be acceptable to a majority of the electorate and it must be acceptable within the international community.

If elections are to be free and fair, laws designed in that regard must not just exist; they must be operational and be enforced. And the power of freedom of choice conferred on the electorates must be absolute and not questionable.

But contrary to these provisions, since the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, our country has conducted different elections. These elections have many common features and few things differentiate them.

For instance, the elections were all conducted periodically as expected. They were closely monitored by domestic and international observers, and they aroused varied contestations from Nigerian politicians and voters and they were marred by varying degrees of malpractice.

The implication of this finding is that the electoral process in Nigeria is rendered vulnerable to abuse, through massive rigging and other forms of electoral malpractices by political parties- especially by those in power as they seek to manipulate the system to serve their partisan interest.

Elections, which are a critical part of the democratic process, therefore, lose their intrinsic value and become mere means of manipulation to get to power.

This, the study noted, derogates the sanctity of elections as an institutional mechanism for conferring political power on citizens in a democratic dispensation.

As a way forward, it underlined four basic conditions necessary to create an enabling environment for holding free and fair elections. These include; an honest, competent and non-partisan body to administer the election, the knowledge and willingness of the political community to accept basic rules and regulations governing the contest for power, a developed system of political parties and teams of candidates presented to the electorates as alternative choices. And an independent judiciary to interpret electoral laws and settle election disputes.

For transparency and accountability during and after the election, INEC should; be free from any form of financial encumbrance, funding of INEC should henceforth come from the first-line charge. The commission should also be removed from the list of Federal bodies. And, the procedure for the appointment and removal of the INEC chairman and members of the board should be reviewed.

To perform its role effectively as the final arbiter of electoral dispute, and curb the excesses of the politicians, the court must possess both juridical expertise as well as political independence. There should be adequate time between resolution of conflicts and swearing-in of elected officials; section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 should be reviewed such that election tribunal cases are expedited. And finally, the court must resist the political or financial pressure and adhere strictly to the underlying legal grounds in their consideration of injunctions.

Aside from adopting or enforcing provisions requiring aspiring candidates to have been a member of a political party to address a high prevalence of defections before elections which dilutes political party growth and development, political parties should act as a bridge between people and the government and help integrate citizens into the political system. Also, they should inform citizens about politics through socialization and mobilization of voters to ensure that the decisions are made by the people.

While the report stressed that any discussion on democracy without the right to receive and impart information is empty. It, however, regretted that journalism in Nigeria with regard to its constitutional roles is not scientific; adding that Nigerian politicians have always used the media in an unwholesome manner.

To exit this state of affairs, the report urged practitioners to help build enlightened electorates as public enlightenment is a prerequisite for free and fair elections.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, private and state-owned media outlets should strictly enforce, and adhere to regulations on media neutrality and take steps against hate messaging and misinformation in the media. The media should uphold the ethos of providing accurate and factual information to the citizens at all times.

While this is ongoing, the Nigerian Police Force should be guided by,  and conform to the appropriate principles,  rules, codes of ethics, and laws governing police duties especially in relation to crowd control and use of firearms. They should maintain impartiality and eschew partisanship or discrimination between the ruling and non-ruling, big or small.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via

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Money, Society, Development and Economics



By Nneka Okumazie

For some people, all they will ever become is what money can make them.

For them, the power of everything money can do makes everything about money.

They often measure to money and measure for money. They talk for it and ensure it is what is seen about them.

Many of these people have money above all culture in some of the countries the people there have described as unbearable.

In most of these countries, the same reason government does not work is the same thing outsiders are about, bringing the country to a contiguous halt.

Government is all about who can grab for self and interests, around power, resources and money.

This same reason is why many organized crimes exist and several kinds of harmful practices across the private sector.

Money will never develop any country. Though some continue to say money is what is lacking.

Money will never change anything about anyone because if there are real changes at any point, money may have enhanced it but was never cause.

Things that look like changes that money made does not change; they are just more of how money keeps itself important.

For many things done because there was money to do it, they are many times purposeless. There are also others that should be been important, but because money was more important in that project, it also became purposeless.

If in some developing country, someone lives in a nice apartment or drives a cool vehicle, making that individual seem important, the importance of the individual is to whom, and what purpose does it serve, and for what it serves, what does it change, affect or improve?

The comfort that is lived in many of these places is a false peak.

It keeps them there and there is rarely much else to find meaning for.

Money continues to dictate how to be seen to have it, going around in circles, absent of progress, but ensuring participants are unaware.

Money, for what it can, makes people become a sunset. Money stays important using people as tools to itself.

[Ecclesiastes 6:7, All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.]

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