Isabel dos Santos: The rich also cry as Africa’s richest woman get charged with money laundering

Isabel dos Santos, Angola
  • The former first daughter of Angola’s Ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos, has been charged with money laundering and maladministration.
  • Prosecutors are seeking to recover $1bn (£760m) that Isabel dos Santos and her associates are alleged to have stolen during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.
  • Latest estimates put Ms Dos Santos fortune at $2.1 bn (£1.6bn).

The rich also cry and Africa’s richest women, Isabel dos Santos, is not a happy woman at the moment.

The former first daughter of Angola’s Ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos, has been charged with money laundering and maladministration during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

"Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management ... forgery of documents, among other economic crimes," Angola’s Attorney General, Helder Pitta Gros told a news conference on Wednesday evening.

Prosecutors are seeking to recover $1bn (£760m) that Ms Dos Santos and her associates are alleged to owe the state. Mr. Pitta Gros went ahead and called on Ms Dos Santos to return to Angola and face potential criminal charges.

Failure by Isabel dos Santos, who currently lives in the UK where she owns expensive properties in central London, to return to Angola voluntarily than an international arrest warrant against her would be issued for her, Mr Pitta Gros warned.

The Angolan authorities are now planning to conduct a criminal investigation to determine whether she should be formally charged. Ms Dos Santos was named among five other people as suspects in the case, all of whom have been urged to return to Angola.

Ms Dos Santos was controversially appointed head of Sonangol in June 2016 by her father, Ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos. Her stint at the state at Sonangol was, however, short lived as she was sacked from the post in 2017 by her father's successor, President Joao Lourenço.

Soon after an investigation into the Angolan billionaire was opened after her successor at Sonangol, Carlos Saturnino, alerted authorities to alleged irregular money transfers. Her assets in Angola have been frozen.

More than 700,000 incriminating documents about the billionaire's business empire were leaked early this week which sealed Ms Dos Santos's fate.

The documents showed how Ms Dos Santos got access to lucrative land, oil, diamond and telecoms deals when her father was president. They also showed how Western firms helped Ms Dos Santos take her money out of Angola.

Latest estimates put her fortune at $2.1 bn (£1.6bn).

Soon after the leaked documents made rounds across the world, one partner after another started dropping her like a hot potato.

The Portuguese bank EuroBic, where she holds a 42.5% stake indirectly via two entities making her the bank's main shareholder, has announced it will end its business relationship with the former first daughter. A top PWC executive has also left the firm after revelations of PwC links with Isabel Dos Santos.

Ms Dos Santos, who has declared interest in running for presidency has, however, put a brave face and called the allegations entirely false, claiming that the Angolan government was engaged in a politically motivated witch-hunt.

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