Data reveal huge sums spirited out of Angola

Wed Apr 6, 2011 2:18pm GMT
 

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Almost $6 billion was spirited out of Angola in 2009, according to new data on Wednesday that highlight how much of the war-scarred African nation's oil wealth is stolen by a corrupt elite.

Calculations provided to Reuters by the Washington-based anti-corruption advocacy group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) suggest funds worth nearly a sixth of Angola's entire annual budget flowed illicitly out of the country in the last year for which data are available.

The bulk of the flows was channelled abroad by a mechanism known as "trade mispricing".

In this case, the way it typically works is that Angolan importers pretend to pay foreigners more for imports than they actually spend. The difference provides cash that can be discreetly put into banks or other assets abroad.

Oil producers seem especially susceptible to this and other kinds of corruption and capital flight. Late last year, GFI estimated that in 2009 $27.5 billion flowed illicitly out of Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and a country with eight times Angola's 18.5 million population.

Angola is Africa's largest oil producer after Nigeria and a strategic supplier of crude to the United States.

It has set its sights on producing 2 million barrels of oil a day, and says much of that revenue should be ploughed into rebuilding after a long civil war that shattered the former Portuguese colony before it ended almost a decade ago.

But the secretive governing elite at the top of the ruling MPLA party has long been accused of graft on a grand scale and of plundering the oil wealth of a nation where the vast majority of its 18.5 million inhabitants live in squalor and poverty.   Continued...

<p>Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos talks to journalists after a signature agreement ceremony held at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Hugo Correia</p>
 
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