March 23, 2021

Jersey Trust Company Fined $835,000 For Opening ‘Gateway To Possible Money Laundering’ In Angola

A court in the Channel Islands has fined a team of accountants and economists who for years ignored risks of possible corruption and embezzlement when providing services to an investment management company working with Angola’s government. Jersey’s Royal Court fined LGL Trustees Ltd more than $835,000 for two breaches of the island’s anti-money laundering laws. 

From 2010 to 2016, according to the judgment, LGL pocketed more than $1 million in fees providing services connected to the management of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, whose investments were overseen by Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. Despite questionable and what the prosecution called “colossal” fees paid to Bastos, the reluctance of banks to deal with him, and concerns over a prior conviction, the trust company “effectively opened the gateway to possible money-laundering” in accepting the work, the court decision said. 

Bastos is a close friend of José Filomeno “Zénu” dos Santos, appointed by his father, then president of Angola, to manage the country’s sovereign wealth fund. Bastos and dos Santos were arrested in 2018 on suspicion of embezzlement. Bastos denied wrongdoing and settled with Angolan authorities.

Jersey’s Royal Court said that while Angola’s wealth fund and investments were not in themselves suspicious, LGL’s “ineffective” approach missed red flags. The firm “took the risk of being involved in the diversion of tens of millions of dollars of public funds of one of the poorest countries in the world to its corrupt rulers, and their relatives and associates,” prosecutors said.Learn more here.

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