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Swiss Supreme Court releases assets to Angolan insurance magnet



(Reuters) – Switzerland's Supreme Court ruled this month that a $ 900 million freeze belonging to an imprisoned Angolan businessman was cited, citing insufficient evidence of money laundering alleged by prosecutors. Swiss history, which was prosecuted by prosecutors in 2018 and upheld by a court last year, but keeps it in place pending appeals.

Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente was a key figure in Angola's oil industry and led a group of companies called AAA International, which sold insurance contracts to the state oil company Sonangol for nearly two decades by bumpers.

According to a copy of the unpublished decision of March 10, received by Reuters, the Supreme Court of Lausanne noted that prosecutors "did not determine precisely, as it was their job to do, the predicate offenses of money laundering necessary to justify the maintenance of a seizure. on the complainant's bank assets. "

" The appellant has provided explanations for each of the (banking) activities that the prosecutor considers to be problematic, "the court added.

The Swiss prosecutor did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the court's decision.

Prosecutors said in the original court report that they had frozen $ 1

.25 billion in accounts linked to Mr de Sao Vicente, his family and business after Swiss banks flagged transfers to those suspects.

They released most of the accounts in April 2019 except for two that were in Sao Vicente's name.

Mr. de Sao Vicente, who has been jailed on suspicion of corruption in Angola since the end of last year, has described the transfers between 2012 and 2019 as a legitimate repayment of loans he made earlier.

Angolan prosecutors did not respond to a Reuters request to comment on the decision. To date, court applications have indicated that there has been no request from Angola for the repatriation of funds.

Lawyers for the Sao Vicente company AAA International told Reuters that the ruling justifies him as a legitimate businessman and that they expect the freeze to be lifted eventually.

"The decision clearly shows that the Swiss case is empty and it will be much more difficult for the Swiss prosecutor to maintain the seizure," Sonja Maeder Morvan of Geneva-based Reiser Avocats told Reuters.

Angola, which draws a third of the state's revenue from oil, seeks to defy decades of perceived corruption and nepotism as it seeks to attract foreign investment to its flagged economy. Catalog

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