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Isabel dos Santos implicated in damning leak

Publish date: 20 January 2020
Issue Number: 4857
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: Criminal

Leaked documents reveal how Africa's richest woman made her fortune through exploiting her own country, and corruption. Isabel dos Santos got access to lucrative deals involving land, oil, diamonds and telecoms when her father José Eduardo dos Santos was President. Legalbrief reports that prosecutors are seeking to recover $1bn Dos Santos and her associates are alleged to owe the state. The BBC has been given access to more than 700 000 leaked documents about the billionaire's business empire. Most were obtained by the Platform to Protect Whistle-blowers in Africa and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Andrew Feinstein, the head of Corruption Watch, says the documents show how Dos Santos exploited her country at the expense of ordinary Angolans. 'Every time she appears on the cover of some glossy magazine somewhere in the world, every time that she hosts one of her glamorous parties in the south of France, she is doing so by trampling on the aspirations of the citizens of Angola,' he said. The leaked documents show that when Dos Santos headed state oil company Sonangol in 2017, she approved $58m of suspicious payments to a consultancy company in Dubai called Matter Business Solutions. The Guardian reports that Angola’s Attorney-General is investigating allegations of mismanagement during Dos Santos’ time as head of Sonangol.

Full BBC News report

Full report in The Guardian

The billionaire has suggested that she may seek to become President. In a BBC News interview, she declined to rule out running for office. Her father controversially appointed her as the head of Angola's state-owned oil firm Sonangol in 2016 but she was sacked by President Joao Lourenço the following year. A court in the Angolan capital, Luanda, last month ordered the freezing of her bank accounts of her vast business empire in the oil-rich country, following a string of investigations into alleged corruption by the Dos Santos family which prosecutors say has robbed the state of more than $2bn. In the London interview, she repeatedly stressed that her life was at risk if she returned to Angola. ‘To lead is to serve, so I will do whatever my life takes me,’ she said. Dos Santos later told a Portuguese television channel that ‘it's possible’ she might run for the presidency in 2022.

Full BBC News report