Ex-Angolan Leader's Son Seeks Overturn of Freeze Order

(Bloomberg) -- The son of the former president of Angola asked a U.K. court to lift a $3 billion order freezing assets linked to an Angolan sovereign wealth fund he once ran, arguing that Britain isn’t the appropriate jurisdiction for the case.

A U.K. judge granted the freezing order in April, but Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of former president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and the Swiss firm that managed assets for the fund are asking the court to lift the freezing order and throw out the case on the basis that it can’t be heard in England. Zug, Switzerland-based Quantum Global founded by Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, a former business associate of dos Santos, has a mandate to manage some of the wealth fund’s assets.

The Fundo Soberano de Angola is suing the investment managers as Angolan President Joao Lourenco seeks to recoup what he says were billions in state assets misappropriated before he took office last year. Lawyers for Quantum said in court documents prepared for the hearing that it never mismanaged money and this is actually a dispute about how the new Angolan government is trying to find a way to break long-term contractual commitments.

“The defendants have successfully managed these assets for years and have never sought to claim ownership of the assets or otherwise misappropriate them,” the lawyers wrote. The inference otherwise is “a tool to exert pressure on the defendants to allow the early termination of the remaining investment agreements.”

Lawyers for Bastos de Morais said in court documents that the Angola fund had freely entered into the contracts and that it was “running a tenuous fraud and conspiracy claim, relying on a tendentious and highly misleading account of the underlying facts.”

Quantum’s lawyers said the case should be heard in Mauritius, rather than England, as some of the money was invested in private equity deals through Mauritian limited partnerships.

“Apart from it being said that certain bank accounts of Northern Trust into or out of which some money was paid, happen to be ‘located’ in London, those claims have nothing to do with England,” the lawyers said.

A spokesman for de Morais and Quantum declined to comment beyond what was said in court.

In a separate case, Filomeno dos Santos was charged in March in Angola for allegedly transferring $500 million from state coffers to the London branch of a Swiss bank, that touches on allegations of misappropriation and laundering of funds intended for the economic development of the African nation.

Mark Anderson, a lawyer for Dos Santos, couldn’t be reached to comment.

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