The scandal of the recent arrest of Major Pedro Lussati, by the PGR in the scope of Operation Crab, which became publicized not only nationally but internationally, led to reflection on the way in which the budget allocated to the military forces is managed. Much money was seized, as well as movable and immovable assets, which, when counted, can be used for the execution of various State projects.
With a total of one billion fifty-one million forty-six thousand and eight hundred US dollars (1,051,046,800), and three billion eight hundred and forty-one million three hundred and sixty-four thousand and eight hundred Kwanzas (3,841,364,800) and of one million euros (1,000,000), and much of this fortune in kind, kept in suitcases and boxes, this seizure was several residences supposedly belonging to the Major. In addition to money, assets in furniture and real estate were accounted for.
I made the challenge to evaluate and see what could be done with this money that Major Lussati had, a good part in suitcases. The way was to find out the cost of works carried out or at least already under construction for this exercise.
First, in a publication by Jornal de Angola, within the scope of PIIM, it is stated that the Government of the province of Kwanza Sul is going to build a primary school with seven classrooms, in the municipality of Cela, estimated at one hundred and forty-nine million Kwanzas (149,000,000). In the amount seized in Kwanza in the highlighted operation, three billion eight hundred and forty-one million three hundred and sixty-four thousand eight hundred (3,841,364,800), it was possible to build close to 26 schools with the same dimensions, more than one per province.
In second place, still on this path, Angop informed that the Hospital Geral do Bengo is valued at 63 million and 180 thousand dollars. With the one billion fifty-one million forty-six thousand eight hundred dollars (1,051,046,800) seized, we could build more than 15 hospitals, almost one in each province.
In Huambo, the Bailundo hospital is budgeted at 50 million euros, a little over 60 million dollars. The dollar value found, with Major Pedro Lussati, could be built 16 hospitals, almost one in each province.
Finally, we also brought the construction of the “Sumbe Circle”, which will cost the public coffers around 130 million 800 thousand US dollars, because if Pedro Lussati decided to invest all the dollars in it, we would have more than seven.
A system that opens too many loopholes
At a press conference in the city of Saurimo, Lunda Sul, the Attorney General of the Republic, Hélder Pitta Grós said that the case is still under investigation and that more people are involved. He also said that the PGR already knows where the money came from and that it was lawful, a position, in fact, that reinforced what the Governor of the BNA had already said.
Experts heard argue that the real problem is the system that opens up too many loopholes and allows anyone who has access to a safe from an institution like the Army to take it out, keep it at home or collect it.
Why does the UGP have a central treasury? Is there or is there no justification from the PR Security House that it needs this or that amount from the Ministry of Finance? These are some of the questions raised by experts.
These two gaps, associated with the fact that, at any time, the UGP can ask MINFIN for additional amounts for its expenses, without any kind of questioning, open doors to what has now been discovered. And worse, “that there are more Lussati’s out there”, they affirm.
Major Lussati is a native of Huíla and, as a good Angolan, he had other luxuries that were not added to our calculation, such as around 1000 pairs of shoes, more than 35 high-end cars, 57 properties between Luanda, Lubango, Lisbon and Whindhoek , and that’s not to mention the land that he also owned. There is also talk of more than ten years of intact salaries, more than eighty-five million and eight hundred thousand (85,800,000) Kwanzas.
For analysts, Pedro Lussati is just the tip of a huge iceberg. Making clear mention of the specific case, but there is more, it brings below some of the many cases of corruption that have come to the public:
500 million case
The BNA 500 million case dates back to August 2017, when José Filomeno dos Santos, former president of the Angola Sovereign Fund, Walter Filipe, former governor of the National Bank of Angola (BNA), and others were accused of involvement in a illicit transfer of 500 million dollars to a bank account in London.
At the time, the company Mais Financial Serviços proposed to the Angolan government the constitution of a Strategic Investment Fund to finance projects considered strategic for the country. From there the diversion of funds was only a step. Published to DW.
A transfer that according to DW published, led the Minister of Finance, at the time Archer Mangueira, to say in court that he had been removed from the operation of transferring the 500 million dollars from the National Bank of Angola abroad and that he had not seen any Decree President to authorize it.
Even before the convictions of Zenu dos Santos and Walter Filipe, the State recovered the money in its entirety. But it was through court action, and according to NJ, it cost the state about $8 million.
According to ANGOP, the case dates back to 2017, when, at the end of November, a delegation of alleged foreign investors from Thailand arrived in Angola with a letter of invitation from the director of the Technical Unit for Private Investments (UTIP), Norberto Garcia , who was accused of being under house arrest.
In February 2018, police authorities arrested the defendants, after being alerted by the Financial Information Unit (UIF) about the forgery of the check.
This case remained for the trial, and ended with the conviction of the Thais and some Angolans.
The “CNC Case” follows on from the publication of the results of the report of the General Inspectorate of State Administration (IGAE) carried out at the National Council of Shippers (CNC), an institute entitled by the Ministry of Transport. Among the various irregularities detected, the diversion of funds from the National Council of Shippers stands out.
This case in itself caused the Angolan State a loss of more than one billion kwanzas (approximately 16 million dollars). As published by DW. And it ended with the conviction of several public managers involved, with emphasis on the former minister of transport Augusto Tomás to 14 years in prison sentence.
GRECIMA was created in May 2012, as an auxiliary body of the former Angolan President, José Eduardo dos Santos, and extinguished, in 2017, by the current President of Angola, João Lourenço.
As published by ANGOP, for the Angolan Public Ministry, it was proven that Manuel Rabelais, aided by Hilário Santos, “transformed GRECIMA into an authentic exchange house, attracting companies and individuals to deposit kwanzas in exchange for foreign currency, selling currency to exchange rate higher than that practiced by the BNA.
In this case, as reported by the press, the defendants defrauded the Angolan state by more than 22.9 billion kwanzas (US$38 million), of which 4.6 billion kwanzas (US$7 million) were received directly from the General Budget (OGE) and 18.3 billion kwanzas (US$26 million) of foreign exchange received from the National Bank of Angola (BNA).
what could be done
Recent data show that Angola still today has one of the most worrying infant mortality rates in the world. Therefore, the Executive made efforts to build the Materno Infantil do Camama hospital, with capacity for, in a first phase, as published by the Novo newspaper, more than 200 admissions and, in a second moment, more 150 beds. A unit that is valued at almost 194 million US dollars. Adding up the amounts that were made public in each of these cases, – without adding the Thai scam that did not materialize –, we would have 600 million dollars. Which would serve to build three hospitals with the same dimensions as Camama’s. It should be remembered that according to the indexmundi, the infant mortality rate in the country in 2020 was 6.2%.
Per MSc. Ladislau Neves Francisco