Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, son of Angola’s former President José Eduardo dos Santos, has been sentenced to serve a five-year jail term by the Supreme court of Angola for embezzlement of state funds.
In December, Dos Santos was arraigned before the court over allegations of his attempt to embezzle up to $1.5 bn from the sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.
Affectionately known as “Zenu,” the 42-year-old was charged with stealing $500m from the fund and transferring it to a bank account in Switzerland.
In court, judge Joao da Cruz Pitra said, “For the crime of fraud … and for the crime of peddling influence … the legal cumulus condemns him to a single sentence of five years in prison.”
In light of his sentence, three co-defendants, including the former governor of the National Bank of Angola (BNA), Valter Filipe da Silva, were also sentenced to between four and six years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling.
All four were acquitted of money laundering charges. They have previously denied any wrongdoing.
Been the second child of his father, Zenu is the first member of the former presidential family to be prosecuted as part of an anti-corruption campaign led by Angola’s current president, Joao Lourenco, who came assumed power since 26 September 2017.
In February, Angolan investigators froze the assets of Zenu’s billionaire half-sister, Isabel dos Santos.
She is being probed for a long list of crimes in Angola, including mismanagement, embezzlement, and money laundering during her stewardship of the state-run oil giant Sonangol.
In an attempt to curb issues of corruption in Angola, President Joao Lourenco has mainly targeted the family members of his predecessor, who appointed relatives and friends to key positions during his 38-year rule, which led to the creation of a legacy of poverty and nepotism.
However, Isabel dos Santos has vehemently denied the accusations against her denouncing Luanda’s actions as a politically-motivated “witch-hunt.”
Only a small elite have benefitted from Angola’s vast oil and mineral reserves.