Home » Angola to sell stake in Standard Bank unit seized from jailed tycoon Carlos Sao Vicente

Angola to sell stake in Standard Bank unit seized from jailed tycoon Carlos Sao Vicente

Government seized stake from convicted billionaire Carlos Sao Vicente

by Omokolade Ajayi

Key Point


  • Angolan government plans to sell a minority stake in Standard Bank de Angola via an IPO, retaining 15%.
  • Seized 49% stake from convicted billionaire Carlos Sao Vicente in 2020; he’s serving nine years for embezzlement and tax fraud.
  • In March 2023, Singapore High Court denied Vicente’s bid to release $2.6 million for legal fees, citing complex international asset transfers.

The Angolan government, led by President Joao Lourenco, has announced plans to sell a minority stake in Standard Bank de Angola SA, previously controlled by convicted billionaire businessman Carlos Sao Vicente.

This decision follows the 2020 seizure of a 49 percent stake in the bank from Sao Vicente, who is serving a nine-year prison term for embezzlement and tax fraud, as per a presidential decree.

Initial public offering planned

President Joao Lourenco, through a presidential decree, approved the sale of up to 34 percent of Standard Bank Angola via an initial public offering (IPO).

The state will retain a 15 percent stake in the bank, while the Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest lender, which currently holds a 51 percent stake, has the option to acquire an additional 24 percent through the IPO. The decree, however, did not specify the timeline for the IPO.

Background on Carlos Sao Vicente’s conviction

Carlos Sao Vicente, former chairman and CEO of AAA Seguros and managing director at Sonangol from 2000 to 2016, was convicted in 2022 for embezzlement, money laundering, and tax fraud.

The Angolan authorities froze $900 million of his assets held in Swiss bank accounts in 2020, following allegations of siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars from business dealings with foreign oil companies during Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s presidency.

In addition to the Swiss accounts, the Commercial Affairs Department seized Sao Vicente’s main account containing over $558 million in February 2021. Accounts belonging to his wife and son, holding over $5 million and $10.5 million respectively, were also frozen.

Further legal setbacks

In May 2023, the Singapore High Court rejected his bid to release $2.6 million from his Bank of Singapore account to cover legal expenses, citing concerns about the true extent of his wealth due to complex international asset transfers.

The Angolan government’s decision to sell the minority stake in Standard Bank de Angola SA represents a significant step in its ongoing efforts to recover assets and combat corruption within the country’s financial system.

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