For the most part of 2020, Isabel dos Santos has not been able to catch a break. A fresh trouble for the Angolan entrepreneur comes as Portugal freezes her bank accounts in the latest move against her reported fraudulent business dealings in her country’s oil sector.
According to the public prosecutor’s office in Lisbon, dozens of the Angolan’s personal and corporate accounts have become subjects of a seizure order. The bank accounts of her husband, Sindika Dokolo have also been frozen.
The empire owned and controlled by the duo cuts across the banking, diamonds, oil, telecoms, property, engineering and supermarket sectors in Angola and Portugal. Dos Santos and Dokolo have many homes in London, despite coming from one of Africa’s poorest countries.
The Angolan businesswoman has in the past referred to the United Kingdom capital as her main family home, a possible indication of the immensity of her wealth and reach of her connections.
After last month’s publication of Luanda Leaks, Angola charged the eldest daughter of former Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, with embezzlement, alleging fraud during her tenure as head of the state oil giant, Sonangol.
In this lingering fraud narrative, Portugal is the second country to freeze Dos Santos accounts. In December 2019, the Angolan arm of her – and husband’s – USD 2 Bn fortune was iced, bringing her financial belongings under the control of the government.
Per reports from prosecutors, deals between the couple and state-owned businesses in the diamond and oil sectors bled the state of money close to USD 1 Bn, for which Angola now demands compensation.
The move from Lisbon was requested by the attorney general of Angola, Hélder Pitta Grós, who visited Portugal in January. During the visit, Grós met with his Portuguese counterpart, asking for assistance with Dos Santos’ prosecution – after which a request letter followed.
“At the meeting in Lisbon between the attorneys general of Angola and Portugal, and following requests for cooperation, the freezing of Isabel dos Santos’s personal and company accounts was requested as part of the seizure process in Angola,” a spokesperson for the Angolan attorney general told O Jornal Económico.
According to the source, the request “was formalised in a letter rogatory sent after the visit, where these steps by the Portuguese justice are requested.”.
In the past few weeks, the beleaguered billionaire has unloaded significant assets in Portugal, including a majority stake in the publicly listed electrical engineering company, Efacec. Dos Santos also offed a controlling share in Eurobic, a bank under investigation by Portuguese regulators.
Featured Image: ICIJ