**ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY DEC. 28**  Monies are counted at a Stokvel meeting  in Nhlazuka, South Africa, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. The savings and loan club, known as stokvels, have worked fro generations in South African villages and townships. Neighbors gather, each contributes a small sum, and can draw loans from the pot, often kept in a members home instead of a bank, for necessities like school uniforms or emergencies like a doctors visit. (AP Photo/John Robinson)
**ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY DEC. 28** Monies are counted at a Stokvel meeting in Nhlazuka, South Africa, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. The savings and loan club, known as stokvels, have worked fro generations in South African villages and townships. Neighbors gather, each contributes a small sum, and can draw loans from the pot, often kept in a members home instead of a bank, for necessities like school uniforms or emergencies like a doctors visit. (AP Photo/John Robinson)

$32bn missing from Angola state coffers

By Sapa-AP Time of article published Dec 22, 2011

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Angola’s government must account for a staggering $32 billion (R263bn) missing from state coffers in a country where most suffer immense poverty despite the nation’s massive oil wealth, says Human Rights Watch.

The revelation comes the same week that Angola announced yet another huge offshore oil find and after deals were signed on Tuesday with seven major oil companies to drill there.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said yesterday that the missing money had been identified by the International Monetary Fund in a report this month and was believed to be linked to Angola’s state oil company Sonangol.

It includes $7.1bn transferred into trust fund accounts overseas and $24.9bn that appear as “an unexplained discrepancy in government accounts”.

The International Monetary Fund said the money had disappeared between 2007 and 2010 from Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, and amounted to 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Previously Human Rights Watch has identified more than $4bn in oil revenues that went missing from Angolan government accounts between 1997 and 2002. That money was never recovered.

In the past Angola’s Finance Ministry has denied that the country has a major corruption and embezzlement problem.

Transparency International, the coalition that fights corruption, ranked Angola in the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world this year.

The missing money was found as a result of reforms that were instituted among the conditions for an IMF loan of $1.4bn – a paltry amount compared to the huge discrepancy.

“Angola’s government has taken credit for improving transparency over its oil revenues and for auditing the state oil company,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “But the disappearance of $32bn raises serious questions about its efforts and underscores the need for public accountability.”

Yesterday Angop, the state news agency, quoted Sonangol CEO Manuel Vicente as saying that the latest find in Angola’s Kwanza Basin seabed meant the country was “entering a new era” in the oil market.

Angola

is still recovering from a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. More than half of its population lives below the international poverty line, child and maternal deaths are among the highest in the world and 30 percent of children are malnourished, says the UN Children’s Fund. –

Sapa-AP

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