Respectability, some Angolans have found, can be acquired in Portugal — and lost.
Álvaro Sobrinho, the former chief executive of Banco Espírito Santo Angola, was born in Angola and now lives in Portugal, holding dual citizenship. In Portugal, he became the major shareholder in Sporting Lisbon, a major soccer team, and also bought two newspapers.
But he was eventually investigated by the Portuguese authorities for his role in the bank, the Angolan subsidiary of Portugal’s Banco Espírito Santo, which he headed for a decade until 2012. The bank was accused of misappropriating $5.7 billion (Rs 191.7 billion) by giving out loans — to the political elite and to Mr. Sobrinho himself — that were never repaid. Mr. Sobrinho has denied all accusations and has not been charged despite the long investigation.
But he is now regarded as a “thief” in Portugal, he said. He has sold off his newspapers. He said he had at least recovered his assets, which the Portuguese authorities had frozen for a few years. A court reaffirmed in May that the state cannot seize his assets, but prosecutors say that Mr. Sobrinho is still being investigated.
His assets include six apartments he owns with his family in Estoril Sol Residence in Cascais, the “Angolans’ building.” Brazilians, Russians and Portuguese, including some who made money doing business in Angola, also owned apartments but were never investigated for money laundering, he said.
“Only Angolans,” Mr. Sobrinho said, with bitterness.
The resentment, though, did not detract from his enjoyment of his apartments (“very beautiful, you can see the sea”) or of Cascais (“an amazing place”).
“The king used to live there,” he added.