The lawyers of the Angolan businessman Carlos São Vicente said today that a Swiss court decreed the suspension of cooperation with the Angolan judicial authorities, due to the lack of impartiality in the judicial process against his client.
“O The Supreme Court ruled that the Swiss authorities could not cooperate with Angola before evaluating the possibility and effectiveness of obtaining various diplomatic guarantees by this country, in particular with regard to the independence and impartiality of the courts and the fulfillment of the procedural rights of Carlos São Vicente”, reads a statement sent to Lusa by the businessman’s lawyers.
In the text, the lawyers of Carlos São Vicente, sentenced in Luanda in March to nine years in prison and a fine of US$500 million, roughly the same in euros, for the crimes of embezzlement, money laundering and fraud, write further: “This is a historic decision, as the Swiss Supreme Court recognizes that there are serious doubts about Mr. Saint Vincent to a fair trial in Angola”.
The decision of the Swiss court, consulted by Lusa, “partially” admits the appeal made by Carlos São Vicente against the Swiss sentence of May 23 this year, but rejects the request to unfreeze the Angolan businessman’s bank accounts.
São Vicente “hopes that other countries will follow the path opened by the Swiss Supreme Court and refuse to cooperate with the irregular procedures followed by the Angolan authorities”, the lawyers also write, in the note that gives an account of the decision, dated 30 August.
In custody since September 2020, the crimes attributed to Carlos São Vicente, according to the Angolan prosecution, involved amounts in excess of one billion euros, although in the sentence now known, the Swiss judges speak of an “estimate of more than 4 billion dollars” in funds diverted due to the convict’s business activities.
The businessman, who for almost two decades had the insurance and reinsurance monopoly of the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, is said to have set up a triangular scheme, with companies in Angola, London and Bermuda, which generated losses for the Angolan treasury.
With this scheme, and according to the same document, Carlos São Vicente, owner of one of the largest private business groups in Angola at the time, also managed not to share profits from the insurance and reinsurance business with other co-insurers, such as the public insurer ENSA, harming , thus these companies, as well as Sonangol itself.
For the prosecution, Carlos São Vicente created from a certain point a “kind of business with himself, within the AAA group [de que era proprietário]causing the diversion of public funds”.
The accusations and the “excessive preventive detention” were repeatedly contested by the defense, which promised in March to appeal the sentence handed down by the 3rd Criminal Section of the Luanda District Court.