AFRICA MONEY-The murky world of Africa oil back in spotlight

Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:15pm GMT

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG, March 30 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund had bad timing this week in approving the latest tranche of a loan to oil-rich Angola, coinciding as it did with the issuance of a French arrest warrant for the son of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Both events highlight the murky world of African oil, one long linked to rampant graft, glaring income disparities and political longevity: Africa's longest-serving presidents run the shows in Equatorial Guinea and Angola.

Let's start with the IMF loan, which was approved on Wednesday, the final $132.9 million disbursement to Angola under the country's $1.4 billion loan agreement made in 2009.

Earlier, rights groups wrote to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde urging the IMF's executive board to withhold the final tranche until the Angolan government improved transparency on how it uses public funds.

They also urged the government to explain a $32 billion discrepancy in public funds thought to be linked to the state oil company, Sonangol.

The IMF said Angola, Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, had taken measures to improve its accountability in public spending and oil profit transfers.

Perhaps, but a lot remains to be explained.

As Human Rights Watch has noted, the Angolan government has not yet explained a discrepancy of $32 billion in state funds thought to be linked to Sonangol and spent or transferred from 2007-10 - a discrepancy flagged by the fund in October.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.