Angolagate, also known as the Mitterrand-Pasqua affair, is an international political scandal over the secret sale and shipment of arms from Eastern Europe to the government of Angola by the Government of France in the 1990s. The scandal has also been tied to the U.S. government and businessmen around the world.

Bicesse Accords

President José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola met with Jonas Savimbi of UNITA in Lisbon, Portugal and signed the Bicesse Accords, a peace agreement that attempted unsuccessfully to end the civil war, on May 31, 1991 with the mediation of the Portuguese government. The accords laid out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations' UNAVEM II mission with a presidential election in a year.

The accords attempted to demobilize the 152,000 active fighters and integrate the remaining government troops and UNITA rebels into a 50,000-strong Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). The FAA would consist of a national army with 40,000 troops, navy with 6,000, and air force with 4,000. While UNITA largely did not disarm, the FAA complied with the accord and demobilized, leaving the government disadvantaged.

Angola held a presidential election in 1992. In the first round dos Santos officially received 49.57% of the vote and Savimbi won 40.6%. Savimbi said the election had neither been free nor fair and refused to participate in the second round. UNITA renewed its guerrilla war, capturing five of Angola's eighteen provincial capitals.

Arms sales

With the MPLA on the verge of defeat, dos Santos contacted Jean-Bernard Curial, the former French Socialist Party Southern Africa expert, and asked him to come to Luanda. Curial, supportive of dos Santos, contacted Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of then-President François Mitterrand. Jean-Christophe referred Curial to Pierre Falcone, head of Brenco International, a consortium of companies based in Paris, and adviser to Sofremi, a parastatal run by the right-wing Interior Minister Charles Pasqua. Pasqua believed that in the early 1990s the U.S. government's support for UNITA had diminished while tacit support for the MPLA increased because peace would increase oil output. He argued that if Foreign policy of Francois Mitterrand towards Angola did not change in kind, French oil companies would miss out on a vital opportunity.

Jean-Christophe's lawyer says that J.-Ch. Mitterrand first met Falcone after he stopped working as an expert on Africa for the Élysée. However, a former employee of Falcone told Le Monde that Falcone and Jean-Christophe Mitterrand first met prior to July 1992 at 56 Avenue Montaigne in Paris while J.-Ch. Mitterrand still worked for the French government. Sources for Le Monde say an employee of Thomson CSF, a French arms and electronics company, introduced J.-Ch. Mitterrand to Falcone.

One week after Curial met Falcone, Falcone agreed to supply the Angolan government with the weapons it needed. The Angolan government bought USD $47 million worth of ammunition, mortar, and artillery from Falcone on November 7, 1993 which dos Santos received in December. In April 1994 the government bought $463 million worth of fighter aircraft and tanks. By late 1994 the Angolan government had purchased $633 million worth of weapons.

Dos Santos secretly had Elísio de Figueiredo, the former ambassador of Angola to France, act as Angola's envoy to friendly contacts in France. Falcone worked with the Angolan government through Figueiredo, who allegedly received $18 million from Brenco International for his cooperation.

Scandal uncovered

Jean-Charles Marchiani, Pasqua's subordinate, allegedly went to Luanda and signed an agreement with dos Santos on November 29, 1994 that promised weapons and monetary assistance in exchange for future business deals with French companies. At that time, Jacques Chirac planned to run for president in the 1995 election. When Pasqua endorsed Edouard Balladur, Chirac's rival, Chirac's supporters told French Inland Revenue about Falcone's arms shipments, alleging income tax evasion. While there is agreement that no arms ever passed through France, French Inland Revenue investigated individuals connected with the scandal because agreements were allegedly signed in Paris. Allain Guilloux, Brenco International's lawyer in France, says the Angolan government agreed to Marchiani's deal in Luanda, not Paris.

In 1996 the French Financial Brigades confiscated 50,000 documents from the offices of Falcone and Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian-Israeli businessman and associate of Falcone.

French police arrested Falcone on December 1, 2000 on charges of tax fraud. Seven days later the French government issued a warrant for the arrest of Gaydamak. French police arrested Jean-Christophe Mitterrand on December 21 for his role in the arms-deal, but released him on January 11 when his mother paid his $725,000 bail. A judge found Mitterrand guilty in 2004 of tax fraud and gave him a suspended sentence of 30-months in prison.

In April 2007 the investigative magistrate Jean-Philippe Courroye indicted 42 people, including J.-Ch. Mitterrand, Jacques Attali, Charles Pasqua and Jean-Charles Marchiani, for having received illegal payments from Pierre Falcone. Arcadi Gaydamak and Falcone were also indicted, but their judgment will take place in absentia as they both left France. The writer Paul-Louis Sulitzer has also been indicted, charged of having received 380.000 euros from Falcone, as well as the UMP deputy Georges Fenech, charged of having received 15.200 euros in 1997 from Brenco.


See also

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