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Investment firm Quantum Global demands to know why Mauritius froze its funds

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Quantum Global, an investment firm through which Angola’s sovereign wealth fund invests much of its cash, demanded on Thursday that Mauritian authorities explain their decision to suspend its business licenses on the island nation.

Mauritius has frozen 25 bank accounts and suspended seven licenses linked to Quantum Global following a visit by Angolan officials last week, according to a regulatory source.

The source told Reuters on Wednesday that Mauritius had acted swiftly in collaboration with investigations by Angolan authorities in order to protect itself against potential “reputational risk.” The source did not elaborate.

“It is hard to defend ourselves against actions by the authorities when the rationale has not been made clear despite our repeated attempts to receive this information,” Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, founder and CEO of Zurich-headquartered Quantum Global, said in a statement.

Bastos de Morais is a business partner of Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of Angola’s former president.

Dos Santos was until recently the head of the national sovereign wealth fund. He has been charged with fraud affecting Angola’s central bank, involving the transfer of $500 million held in the United Kingdom. The funds were frozen and then returned to Angola’s central bank. Quantum Global has said it had nothing to do with the transaction.

Dos Santos is the highest-profile figure to be investigated for corruption since President Joao Lourenco took power last September, vowing to combat years of endemic graft in Africa’s second-largest oil producer.

Quantum Global said it has not been given an underlying reason for why its licenses have been suspended in Mauritius.

“As a result of the absence of due process and the rush to sanction us, Quantum Global has seen its business seriously damaged,” Bastos de Morais said, adding that his firm operates within the law.

“We urgently need to have a fair hearing so we can clear our name,” he said.

Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer in LUANDA; Editing by Hugh Lawson