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Angolan vice president implicated in Portugal graft probe

Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente has been directly implicated in a corruption probe in Portugal which triggered the arrest of a magistrate this week, a source told AFP Thursday.

Public prosecutor Orlando Figueira, 54, is suspected of receiving a bribe of at least 200,000 euros ($220,000) in return for shelving an investigation into the Angolan politician, according to media reports.

A source close to the case confirmed a report by Portuguese news agency Lusa that Vicente is suspected of corruption over the affair. The Portuguese prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the report.

On Tuesday officials announced the arrest of Figueira, who has been on unpaid leave since September 2012, in an investigation into corruption and money laundering.

The prosecutor’s office, while not naming Figueira, said they had detained someone suspected of having “received compensation .. to act in favour of the suspect in a probe which he was leading.”

The probe, shelved in January 2012, centred on the origin of funds with which Vicente, then the head of Angola’s public oil company Sonangol, had bought a luxury apartment in a Lisbon suburb.

According to Portuguese media reports, Figueira received at least 200,000 euros from a subsidiary of Sonangol to bury the affair.

The Angolan politician’s Portuguese lawyer, Paulo Amaral Blanco, has been put under formal investigation for corruption, and his office was raided.

“We have nothing to do with what prosecutor Orlando Figueira might have done, and we hope he will clarify everything,” the lawyer told the daily Correio da Manha.

In November 2013, Portuguese prosecutors shelved another probe for tax fraud and money laundering involving Vicente.

A year earlier Portuguese press revelations about probes targeting senior Angolan regime officials sparked a chill in diplomatic ties between Portugal and Angola, one of its former African colonies.