“Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol,” chief prosecutor Helder Pitta Gros told a news conference on Wednesday evening.
He said that as a result, she was being provisionally charged with “money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management… [and] forgery of documents, among other economic crimes”.
The Angolan authorities will now conduct a criminal investigation to determine whether she should be formally charged.
They have also named five other people as suspects, including Mr Ribeiro da Cunha, and urged them to return to Angola.
Mr Pitta Gros said that if Ms Dos Santos did not return voluntarily, an international arrest warrant would be issued for her.
Ms Dos Santos was controversially appointed head of Sonangol in June 2016 by her father, the then president of Angola. She was sacked from the post in 2017 by her father’s successor, President João Lourenço.
An investigation into Ms Dos Santos was opened after her successor at Sonangol, Carlos Saturnino, alerted authorities to alleged irregular money transfers. Her assets in Angola have been frozen.
What is in the leaked documents?
On Sunday, news organizations reported on more than 700,000 leaked documents about the billionaire’s business empire.
The documents showed how Ms Dos Santos got access to lucrative land, oil, diamond and telecoms deals when her father was president. Her fortune is estimated at $2.1 bn (£1.6bn).
They also showed how Western firms helped Ms Dos Santos take her money out of Angola.
She called the allegations entirely false and claimed that the Angolan government was engaged in a politically motivated witch-hunt.
Earlier this week a top executive at financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers left the firm over its links with Ms Dos Santos. The company declined to comment on the departure and said it had launched its own investigation.
How has Dos Santos responded?
In her statement on Thursday, Ms Dos Santos denied the allegations, describing them as a “very concentrated, orchestrated and well-coordinated political attack, ahead of elections in Angola next year”.
“It is an attempt to neutralize me and to discredit the legacy of President dos Santos and his family. No-one should be taken in by these diversionary tactics,” she said.
Ms Dos Santos said, “stolen documents” were leaked “selectively” to “give a false impression of my business activities”.
“I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up, creating over 20,000 jobs and generating huge tax revenue for Angola… I have always operated within the law and all my commercial transactions have been approved by lawyers, banks, auditors and regulators,” she said.
She added that she had asked lawyers to act against “inaccurate and defamatory reports” and was ready to fight the case in international courts “to defend my good name”.
meantime A banker implicated in the embezzlement and money-laundering case against Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, has been found dead in Lisbon.
NUNO RIBEIRO DA CUNHA, 45, MANAGED THE ACCOUNT OF OIL FIRM SONANGOL, FORMERLY CHAIRED BY MS DOS SANTOS, AT THE SMALL PORTUGUESE LENDER EUROBIC.
His death, on Wednesday, was reported on Thursday soon after Angolan prosecutors named both as suspects.