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Angola has recovered over $5 billion in stolen assets from state coffers, both at home and abroad. This announcement was made by Francisco Queiroz, the country’s Justice Minister on Monday. 

According to Queiroz, $3 billion from the recovered money was stolen from the country’s sovereign wealth fund on grounds of corruption and money laundering. He also asserted his position that siphoned funds should be returned to the country from where they were withdrawn.

“We have argued insistently that these important resources should be returned unconditionally to the countries from which they were illegally withdrawn in order to be used to improve the quality of life of our populations,” Queiroz was quoted as saying, adding that some countries could do more to help.

Emerging from nearly three decades of conflict and instability, Angola has seen corruption manifest in the form of bureaucracy, embezzlement of public resources, systematic looting of state assets, and a deeply entrenched patronage system that operates outside state channels.

The scale-up of corruption and mismanagement has been considerable in the extractive industries. The government of President Joao  Lourenco has introduced important reforms in recent years, especially with regard to revenue and budget transparency which has led to the crackdown of corruption in the country.

On taking over power in 2017 from long-standing President José Eduardo dos Santos,  Lourenco dismissed Dos Santos’s son –Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, who formerly served as the Chairman of Fundo Soberano de Angola, the country’s sovereign wealth fund. He also fired the Dos Santos’ daughter, Isabel dos Santos, as chair of the state-owned oil company, Sonangol. 

The government is making efforts to restrict the influence of its ex-first family, recover lost assets and privatise state firms. This move marks the beginning of an active fight against corruption and nepotism in the country.

President Lourenço is committed to long-term reforms, tackling corruption and improving human rights. The East African country registered significant progress on various fronts in 2018, as its political and civil rights environment became less restrictive, and the courts appeared to operate without political interference. 

Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil-exporting country. Its economy depends on oil for 90 percent of its exports while oil contributes one-third of its GDP.

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