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Vol 42 No 3

Published 9th February 2001

Winners and losers in Angolagate

Politicians, soldiers and corporations are reeling in Luanda and Paris but some wily operators are capitalising on the scandal

The political cost of the arms-for-oil scandal is growing fast in Luanda and Paris. It reaches right across the power elite in two countries. In Angola, it has put under scrutiny the financial affairs of the presidency and President's family at Futungo de Belas, and their relations with a circle of foreign and local business people. Also in the spotlight are Angola's military elite, particularly Generals Manuel Van Helder Vieira 'Kopelipa', the National Security Advisor, and Fernando Miala, the Director of Military Intelligence, whose unorthodox methods of arms procurement find frequent mention in French police documents. The two principals in the affair are Franco-Angolans - Pierre Falcone, in French police custody since 1 December, and Arkady Gaydamak, based in Israel since the French authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest on 6 December. Gaydamak insists Angolagate is a political plot by supporters of French Premier Lionel Jospin, the probable Parti Socialiste contender in the 2002 presidential election against the incumbent Jacques Chirac of the Rassemblement pour la République. Nevertheless, the scandal touches several PS notables. The most high profile of these is Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late President, who cultivated his African networks as assiduously as Chirac's friend, the late Jacques Foccart, and, until now, with more commercial success. Nor can 'les Anglo-Saxons' stand smugly aloof. The French police investigation has tripped over a number of British and American intermediaries in some of the more bizarre financing arrangements of Angolan arms purchases. Two of the key figures in the French probe have been running businesses out of London and remarkably, one of them, Gaydamak, has indefinite leave to remain in Britain (AC Vol 42 No 2).

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