Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the former president of Angola José Eduardo dos Santos and considered the richest woman in Africa, built her fortune thanks to nepotism and corruption, according to a journalistic investigation released on Sunday.
The dossier, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) in collaboration with 36 media outlets, is based on more than 715,000 confidential documents and hundreds of interviews.
His main conclusion: that decades of corruption and unscrupulous business made Dos Santos the richest woman in Africa, while turning Angola, a country with abundant resources such as oil and diamonds, into one of the poorest states in the world.
At the end of December, an Angolan court ordered to freeze the billionaire’s assets cautiously for accusations of corruption related to its former role in public business.
According to ICIJ research, Dos Santos companies benefited over the years of public contracts provided by their father, from tax advantages, telecommunications licenses and diamond mining rights.
In addition, the leaked documents show that a large international network of consultants, lawyers and bankers helped Dos Santos to amass that fortune – estimated at more than 2 billion dollars – and keep it abroad.
The Angolan ex-president’s daughter and her husband are in charge of a large business empire of more than 400 companies and subsidiaries – many in tax havens – and have exclusive properties around the world, including a $ 55 million mansion in Monte Carlo, a 35 million yacht and a luxury residence on an artificial island of Dubai.
In an interview with the BBC, Dos Santos denied any crime and said that the investigations around it are a “political persecution” by the current government.
The ICIJ, a Washington-based newspaper organization, obtained a majority of the documents through a platform to protect filters in Africa, which operates from Paris.
According to the information, during the last decade the companies of Dos Santos obtained consulting, loans, public contracts and licenses valued at billions of dollars from the Angolan Government.
Meanwhile, Dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, used their network of cover companies to avoid being discovered and investing in property and business.
One of its most important investments today is a stake in the Portuguese Galp valued at about 800 million dollars, which Dos Santos and Dokolo obtained thanks to a very advantageous loan from the Angolan state, according to the investigation.
The stake in Galp was sold in 2006 to the couple by the state oil company of Angola Sonangol, which ten years later Dos Santos directed for a short period of time.
At that time, he also allegedly took the opportunity to divert funds from the public company to his own businesses.
His father, José Eduardo dos Santos, left power in 2017 after almost forty years controlling the country, which for a good part of that time lived a bloody civil war.