July 13, 2018 / 8:08 AM / 3 days ago

Swiss unblock some funds seized in Angolan probe

ZURICH, July 13 (Reuters) - Swiss authorities have released around $60 million of funds seized in an investigation into the suspected laundering of money diverted from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund and its central bank, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) opened criminal proceedings in April in response to reports that assets held by the National Bank of Angola and the Fondo Soberano de Angola, the sovereign wealth fund, had been misappropriated.

Prosecutors had said in May that authorities had raided several locations in Switzerland.

“In these proceedings, which are still ongoing, the OAG initially froze around $210 million of assets. The OAG has already unfrozen $60 million held by the Angolan sovereign wealth fund. The funds were unfrozen because their use by unauthorised third parties could be ruled out,” the agency said after the attorneys general of both countries met in Bern on Thursday to discuss cooperation.

Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund has been embroiled in a dispute with its former boss, the ex-president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, and the Swiss-based asset manager contracted to invest money for the fund, Quantum Global.

The fund, which has taken its fight to British courts, has accused Quantum Global of mismanagement and sought a global freeze on its assets as well as an order for banks to reveal information on any accounts held in its name or on its behalf.

Quantum Global, which is led by Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, a long-term business partner of Jose Filomeno dos Santos, denies wrongdoing and has denounced what it calls “intimidating tactics”, saying the money it has under management is properly accounted for, and that the fund has violated its long-term contractual obligations. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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