Editor’s Note: March 26, 2019

Is Angola backtracking on corruption?

Angolan authorities have released the son of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, who was arrested last September in relation to a high profile fraud case. Filomeno Dos Santos had been accused of attempting to steal $1.5bn from the central bank.

The case is part of a major anti-corruption campaign under the country’s new president João Lourenço, who is presiding over an unexpected reform drive since taking office in September 2017.

The government has gone after influential figures from the dos Santos era, gaining Lourenço a degree of goodwill. But the jury is out on whether the anti-corruption effort is sincere, or part of a bid to consolidate power.

To critics Filomeno’s release points to the latter. It doesn’t help that it comes days after his co-defendant and business partner, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, was also released following an undisclosed settlement.

It sounds like the backroom days of old, but this may simply be pragmatism.

Bastos de Morais was only released after his investment firm Quantum Global was relieved of $3.35bn it had been tasked to manage on behalf of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which was run by Filomeno until he was fired in January 2018.

How this money is used will speak volumes about the government’s anti-corruption credentials.

From The Continent

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The UN has said cyclone Idai has caused about $1bn in damage to infrastructure and other resources in the affected Southern African countries. Relief efforts are underway in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique. MoreBloomberg

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