The Swiss Supreme Court has partially ruled against a freeze of $900 million imposed on assets belonging to Angolan businessman Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente, who is currently serving a jail term.
According to Reuters, the court cited insufficient evidence of the money laundering alleged by prosecutors. The exact amount reversed was not stated.
De Sao Vicente, a Portuguese-Angolan citizen, was a key figure in Angola’s oil industry, heading the AAA Seguros group of companies that sold insurance and reinsurance contracts to the state oil company, Sonangol.
He simultaneously served as the chairman and CEO of AAA Seguros and a managing director at Sonangol from 2000 to 2016.
In September 2018, Angola’s attorney general seized buildings and hotels belonging to AAA. Reuters reported that an Angolan presidential decree revoked AAA’s insurance role in the oil industry in 2016, citing its “allegedly non-transparent management.”
By December 2018, prosecutors had frozen $1.25 billion in accounts associated with de Sao Vicente, his family and related companies after Swiss banks signaled suspicious transfers of funds. Most of the accounts were later released in April 2019, except for two, which were in his name, Insurance Journal reported.
In a report, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that the Swiss authorities allege that between 2012 and 2019 de Sao Vicente moved almost $900 million from the insurance company to his personal accounts. The case began in 2018 when his bank, Banque Syz, alerted Swiss authorities of a $213 million transfer.
However, de Sao Vicente told Swiss authorities that the $213 million was a legitimate reimbursement for loans that he had made earlier. The Swiss court noted that the contracts used to justify his claim were created after the money transfers were made and only upon the bank’s request for further information, according to Gotham City.