Yugoslav company seizes Angola's share of Elf's oil revenues

Jul 30, 2000 02:00 AM

A Yugoslav construction company has seized $ 10 mm from French Elf Aquitaine to cover part of a long overdue debt involving Angola. The Angolan government owes Belgrade-based Planum $ 11 mm for two air bases the company built in the war-ravaged African country under a project assigned in 1980, Planum attorney Jean-Jacques Trinquet told.
Planum seized Angola's share of Elf's oil revenues from offshore production in the African country. The report did not explain just how Planum took the money. But an unidentified Elf official told that French legislation allowed the seizure since Elf owes the Angolan government taxes and rent. A French court is to rule on whether Planum has a right to hold onto the money.

Elf has been tarnished by scandals involving senior French business people and top politicians in alleged kickbacks to several African leaders, including Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Former Elf executive Andre Tarallo recently was reported to have told French judges that Elf would hold back about 40 cents on each barrel from African subsidiaries.
The money was then allegedly funnelled into accounts in Liechtenstein, for distribution among African rulers. Angola has rebuffed the allegations.
Human rights groups have denounced Angola's deals with foreign oil companies as shady. The contracts allegedly include multimillion dollar signing bonuses that go straight into the ruling elite's pockets. The Angolan government has been engaged in a civil war with UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

Source: AP
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