LISBON – Angola plans to start recovering large funds held by citizens in overseas accounts toward the end of the year under a law meant to repatriate cash that was illegally moved abroad, President Joao Lourenco said.
Lourenco said in December that the government wouldn’t ask any questions if wealthy Angolans return their funds and invest in the country, but he didn’t set a deadline for the moratorium. “We’re carrying out a real crusade against corruption and impunity with a focus on white-collar crime,” he said in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. “I’m sure that we will soon start to see the benefits of these measures.”
Since taking over as president in September after the 38-year rule of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Lourenco has pledged to fight corruption and improve governance in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer. He’s also trying to diversify an economy that was crippled by the crude slump from mid-2014. Economic growth is expected to reach 2.2 percent this year as oil prices rise, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“While the weight of the oil sector on the overall economy has been reduced, it hasn’t been enough to overcome current imbalances or led to the diversification of the economy,” he said.
During the 15-minute speech, which was broadcast on the parliament’s website, Lourenco reiterated plans to sell stakes in state-owned companies and improve transparency in a range of sectors, including the diamond industry. Popularly known as “the terminator,” the 64-year-old is one of several African leaders who have put fighting graft at the center stage of their policies, pledging to dismantle corrupt business networks that have undermined state revenue.