glint of discord

China-Angola: Is the Catoca idyll coming to an end?

By Estelle Maussion

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Posted on June 24, 2022 07:22

Catoca Catoca is the fourth largest open pit diamond mine in the world. ©Twitter.
Catoca is the fourth largest open pit diamond mine in the world. ©Twitter.

The joint venture China Sonangol, which holds almost a 20% stake in Angola’s main gemstone deposit, has had its stake blocked. Its name has been cited in several cases of suspected corruption.

The action marks a cloud in the usually clear sky of relations between Beijing and Luanda. The Angolan judiciary has seized the stake of the Chinese shareholder in Angolan mining company Catoca, which operates the country’s main diamond deposit and the world’s fourth largest open-pit mine for this precious stone.

Revealed by the Financial Times and then confirmed by the Angolan press in recent days, the seizure dates back a few months, namely to the last quarter of 2021, according to information we obtained.

Contested seizure

In detail, the Angolan public prosecutor’s office, led by Attorney General Hélder Pitta Gróz, blocked Lev Leviev International’s (LLI) 18% stake in Catoca, designating l’Institut de gestion des actifs et participations de l’État – IGAPE – (Institute for the Management of State Assets and Holdings), a public body attached to the ministry of finance, as custodian.

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