Documents reveal Maltese link to how ‘Africa’s richest woman’ stole fortune from her country

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An award-winning investigative team from published a trove of files allegedly showing how Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, syphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into offshore accounts and some with Maltese links.

The New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) worked with newspapers such as Munich’s Suddeutsche Zeitung to reveal the “Panama Papers” tax haven scandal in 2016.

Its latest series called “Luanda Leaks” zeros in on Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angola president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Isabel dos Santos and her husband in Luanda
A file photo dated 5 November 2011 shows Isabel dos Santos and her husband Sindika Dokolo in Luanda, Angola. EPA/BRUNO FONSECA

The documents show how she and her husband were allowed to buy valuable state assets in a series of suspicious deals.

According to the Times of Malta, authorities in Angola have compiled a list of at least 10 Maltese companies they believe the billionaire daughter of a former African dictator may have used to siphon money out of state enterprises.

Isabel dos Santos and her husband Sindika Dokolo used local financial service practitioners, including a former MP, to set up the letterbox companies, some of which were given Angolan state contracts and funds.

Ms Dos Santos says the allegations against her are entirely false and that there is a politically motivated witch-hunt by the Angolan government.

The former president’s daughter has made the UK her home and owns expensive properties in central London.

She is already under criminal investigation by the authorities in Angola for corruption and her assets in the country have been frozen.

Angola’s prosecutors last month froze the bank accounts and assets owned by the 46-year-old businesswoman and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, which she described as a groundless political vendetta.

The group said its team of 120 reporters in 20 countries was able to trace “how an army of Western financial firms, lawyers, accountants, government officials and management companies helped (dos Santos and Dokolo) hide assets from tax authorities”.

The former president’s daughter headed Angola’s national oil company Sonangol. Forbes magazine last year estimated her net worth at $2.2 billion.

Her father’s successor Joao Lourenco forced her out of the oil company after becoming president in 2017.

Dos Santos said last week that she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.

Read more via BBC/The Guardian/The Times of Malta

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