The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Cobalt International Energy, a Houston based company with investments in the Angolan oil sector, for possible violation of anti-corruption legislation. Last week the Financial Times reported that three Angolan officials – the same three officials named in muckraking journalist Rafael Marques’s case now waiting before Angola’s Supreme Court – “confirmed to the FT (…) that they and another general have held shares in Nazaki Oil and Gáz, the local partner in a Cobalt-led deepwater venture launched in early 2010.” The Financial Times is no slouch of a newspaper. When they commit an entire article to topics Angolan it nearly fills my Google news alert for a week.
The Angolan press, both official and independent, has been largely silent. The website Club-K (their slogan is “We Report, You Decide”) posted an article from the Portuguese press and the usually lively comments section had nothing beyond the predictable: “band of thieves”; “now maybe Marques’s case will get somewhere”; and “if the Americans really wanted to catch them they could…this is one more distraction.” What’s really going on here? The FT cares because one of Cobalt’s backers is Goldman Sachs. Angola matters little to them. Angola matters only insofar as it rattles Wall Street. Life there matters only insofar as it touches on life, or rather, the bottom line, the U.S.