Florida Firm Sends Angola a $45 Million Electric Bill

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) – A Florida company this week delivered the Republic of Angola a $45 million electric bill, in Federal Court.

APR Energy sued the African country and its ministries of finance, energy and water on Tuesday, in APR’s hometown of Jacksonville.

APR said Angola’s repeated failure to pay its bills not only caused “obvious and substantial financial harm” to APR, but created rifts between APR “and its banks and auditors, which are now of the belief that Angola will not fulfill its payment obligations.”

Angola agreed in January 2016 that it owed APR $49.4 million and agreed to pay it in installments, according to the complaint. But APR says Angola delivered only one payment, of $89,000, by March this year, and did that only after it warned Angola it would turn off the power plants on April 1 if payment was not received by then.

APR Energy and Greentech-Angola Environment Technology, its agent in Angola, met with Angolan government and bank representatives just before that deadline. According to the complaint, Angola’s Treasury Secretary Edson Vaz told APR Energy and Greentech that “he would transfer 6 billion Angolan kwanza (approximately US $36 million) to satisfy the payments owed at that time to APR.”

Based on Angola’s promises that the money had been set aside and would be paid, APR extended its deadline for another month.

But it was stiffed again, APR says.

“APR later learned that the defendants’ representations regarding the segregation and transmission of funds were false and were made for the purpose and intent of inducing APR to provide additional power generation services, when in fact defendants had no intention of making the agreed upon payment.”

In fact, when APR asked where the money way, it says, “the person assigned with the task of locating the funds did not know where the money had gone.”

And that, APR says, was the last it heard from Treasury Secretary Vaz.

APR sent two more demand letters through counsel. Angola responded to the first one by saying it couldn’t pay, and didn’t bother to answer the second one.

APR Energy would like to see at least $44.5 million, plus interest.

It is represented by Harold Patricoff with Shutts & Bowen in Miami.

Angola, on coastal southwest Africa, has immense mineral deposits, but was devastated by a 25-year-long civil war that began in 1975, which became a proxy war between forces backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, and forces backed by the Reagan administration. Poverty is rampant and the government is notoriously repressive and corrupt.

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