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José Filomeno dos Santos, aka Zenú, is on trial in Luanda accused of illegally taking US$500 million out of the country during his time as head of Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSA), Angola's sovereign wealth fund. He's the first member of the Dos Santos family to be put on trial for financial crimes, two years after ex-President Jose Eduardo dos Santos left office. The trial is viewed as part of President João Lourenço's purge from positions of influence of relatives and allies of his predecessor.
With Zenú in the dock on charges of money-laundering and embezzlement is former central bank governor Valter Filipe da Silva and two other men (AC Vol 59 No 9, Obrigado e tchau, Dos Santos). Their defence is that they were acting under the explicit orders of then President Dos Santos and so committed no crime. On 18 December Valter Filipe claimed in court that the current central bank governor, José da Lima Massano, lied to the prosecutor about the legality of the transfer. No attempt, he also said, was made to conceal it.
Zenú, who was first arrested in September last year, has apparently dismissed his lawyer, saying he could not afford one, and now has one appointed by the court. On the first day of the trial, he walked home from the courthouse, in what some say was an attempt to elicit public sympathy. That is unlikely to succeed, given his prior reputation for living the high life (AC Vol 58 No 22, Dos Santos Inc. sinking).
There is speculation that Zenú's father has offered to testify because he has lifetime immunity from prosecution.
The trial, we hear, has done little to quell public impatience at the lack of tangible improvement to governance from Lourenço's anti-corruption drive.
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