Court freezes assets of former Angola president’s daughter over graft claims


By Andre van Wyk,

All assets of Isabel dos Santos, daughter to former Angola president Eduardo dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo and Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva, CEO of the Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), have been frozen following an order by the Luanda court, according to Angola Press (ANGOP)

The Luanda court ruling is a result of a precautionary measure requested by the government, in sequence of a lawsuit in which the governmental authorities require from the accused the payment of US $1.1 billion.

Isabel with husband Sindika Dokolo

According to the court ruling to which ANGOP had access last Monday, the amount charged is the result of various businesses involving public companies and the accused personalities.

ANGOP has learnt that the lawsuit happens due to the fact that the public companies SODIAM-EP and Sonangol-EP have transferred huge amounts of money in foreign currency to companies overseas, whose beneficiaries were Isabel dos Santos, Sindika Dokolo and Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva without an agreed return of the moneys.

Former Angola President Eduardo dos Santos

According to the document, the accused citizens have recognized the existence of the debt, but argue that they do not have conditions to pay it off.

The document also informs that it was proved that Isabel dos Santos, eldest daughter of the former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has been trying to sell her shares in the UNITEL-SA society (a telecom company), and she has also been trying to transfer huge amounts of Euros to Russia, through Portugal.

De Grisogono Luxury Jewelery

Still according to the same document, it was possible to be clear that Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, then head of the former President’s Communication Service, was the one intermediating the process, as he is said to have started contacts to invest in Japan and it is known that most of his investments and assets are not in Angola.

According to the court, it is also established that a large part of the sums transferred went to De Grisogono Luxury Jewelery, a company whose ultimate beneficiaries are the defendants. 

“This company has been opening stores in several countries, but defendant Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva, who represents Victoria Holding Limited, Victoria Limited, De Grisogono Holding BV and De Grisogono SA, claims that the company has no profits”, reads in the document. 

Banco Fomento de Angola

To Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva, the company is in technical bankruptcy and, for this reason, he cannot pay the debt to SODIAM-EP.

Against this background, the court ordered the preventive seizure of existing balances in bank accounts held by the defendants and domiciled in local banking institutions like International Credit (BIC), Fomento de Angola (BFA), Angolan Investment (BAI) and Banco Economico (BE).

The judicial authorities seized the shares held by the defendant Isabel dos Santos in BCI, 42%, through SAR – Sociedade de Participações Financeiras (25%) and Finisantoro Holding Limited (17%), BFA (51%), UNITEL ( 25%), ZAP MIDIA (99.9%) and FINSTAR (100%). 

Other companies are CONDIS – Sociedade de Distribuição de Angola (Angolan Distribution Society), (90%) and those in Continente Angola, Sodiba – Sociedade de Bebidas de Angola and Sociedade Sodiaba Participações. 

The Luanda Court also ordered the preventive seizure of the shares held by Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo in Cimangola (cemente company) and the 7% belonging to the latter in CONDIS firm.

Isabel, rated as Africa’s richest woman with a net worth that Forbes business magazine estimates at $2.6 billion, has always denied her successor’s allegations that she engaged in questionable business dealings related to the firm.

Sonangol chair Carlos Saturnino had reported that an internal audit showed a transaction of $38 million to a company based in Dubai had been approved by dos Santos shortly after she was removed from her post in November after roughly 16 months.

Dos Santos defended the transaction as a “totally legitimate” payment for consultancy services. She said she was fulfilling her legal obligations until her replacement could be sworn in, according to Reuters news service.