Documents Reveal How 'Africa's Richest Woman' Exploited Her Country to Make Billions
For years the world watched her, fulfilling the narrative of a self-made billionaire rising from Africa.
Isabel dos Santos, hailing from Angola, an African country ravaged by civil war and poverty, is the richest woman in Africa, according to the Forbes magazine. Her real-time net worth is $2.1 bn as of January 21, 2020.
According to recently released documents, the daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, the longtime Angolan autocrat, made her billions by exploiting Angola's wealth with lucrative deals involving land, oil, diamonds, and telecoms when her father was the country's president.
The revelation led to netizens expressing their outrage on Twitter.
4/ #LuandaLeaks: ........ How many Angolan children will suffer?— Sagamite (@SagamiteTheGod) January 20, 2020
These is how these selfish and wicked crooks like #IsabelDosSantos loot public funds create misery, hopelessness and hunger in Africa, while they try to live ostentatiously. pic.twitter.com/9vuTk6bb1E
1/ #LuandaLeaks: #IsabelDosSantos used Angolan money to buy a Swiss Jewelry company. $120m was paid for it by borrowing money a 9% annual interest rate from Banco BIC, i.e. an Angolan lender where #IsabelDosSantos owns a 42.5% stake. The Jewelry company has collapsed ......... pic.twitter.com/OdzhvcYcfh— Sagamite (@SagamiteTheGod) January 20, 2020
The worst part of this Isabel dos Santos thing is that Western media in collusion with Western PR firms canonized her as "Africa's Wealthiest woman" and plastered her all over their pages. Now her fall from grace is going to be attributed to the whole continent even while it was— Nanjala Nyabola (@Nanjala1) January 20, 2020
You signed a contract as both a lender and borrower, where have you seen this @isabelaangola ? In some Gvt contracts you used your own personal advisors without going to tender .Yu even reviewed (together with your European Advisors) Presidential Decrees before they were issued! pic.twitter.com/r60i2k3fpz— Nzekete Againstprof (@AMakuyana) January 19, 2020
The documents show that over the years he awarded her companies with public contracts, tax breaks, telecom licenses, diamond-mining rights and valuable state assets in a series of suspicious deals. This allowed her and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector and businessman, to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars out of Angola.
Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa obtained more than 7,00,000 documents on her business schemes and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The subsequent revealed how a global network of professional service firms such as McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group facilitated her efforts to profit from a country facing extreme poverty, corruption, and a high infant mortality rate.
In June 2016, the former president, made her head of Sonangol, Angola's state oil firm, however, Angola's new President, Joao Lourenco, removed her from that role in November 2017.
Apart from owning properties in Lisbon, Dubai, and Monaco, she also owns three luxurious properties in central London, United Kingdom.
Service providers, financial firms, lawyers, accountants and government officials from Lisbon, London and Dubai, as seen on the records, were also benefitting from helping the Princess, as she's not very affectionately known to Angolans.
Two decades of insider deals revealed how Ms Dos Santos shielded her assets from tax authorities by moving hundreds of millions of dollars in Angolan public money into a web of offshore companies and subsidiaries, the ICIJ reported.
In countries such as Malta, Mauritius and Hong Kong, 94 tax havens have been found associated with her husband. Subsidiaries in 41 counties have also made the list.
The reports also claimed how, the businesswoman, pushed for a redevelopment project which led to the forced eviction of thousands of impoverished Angolans. Santos, resorted to luring Western governments and businesses to invest in her ventures, through banks if other financial institutions or insurers refused to do business with her.
Millions of dollars in loans and contracts were directed to her own company, the significant entry being a payment order from the Angolan state oil company to a bank account in Dubai controlled by her friend.
More than 120 journalists from the ICIJ and 36 other media organisations in 20 countries who travelled to Angola, gathered these documents, called the Luanda Leaks over the course of eight months.
Last Thursday, Ms Dos Santos expressed an interest in running for the presidency.
Saying that the leaked documents were "fake" and based on "false information," she took to Twitter to state that the claims were entirely false and that she was the victim of a witch-hunt led by the Angolan government.
The ICIJ report is based on many fake documents and false information, it is a coordinated political attack in coordinations with the "Angolan Government". 715 thousand documents read? Who believes that?#icij #lies— Isabel Dos Santos (@isabelaangola) January 19, 2020
ICIJ report: This is perpetrated by political agenda to neutralize Isabel dos Santos. "Information" leaked by angolan intelligence services was used to manipulate ICIJ, and to further Angolan Authorities political agenda. Already:ICIJ Panama papers were disproved in UK High Court— Isabel Dos Santos (@isabelaangola) January 19, 2020
An investigation associating dos Santos with corruption is already underway by the Angolan government, which has frozen her assets in the country.