The Angolan Supreme Court recently ordered the preventive seizure of $1 billion in assets belonging to the daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santos, as requested by Angola’s Public Ministry.
Isabel Dos Santos, the first female billionaire in Africa, is being investigated for embezzlement of state funds, influence peddling, and money laundering, which she has denied as a politically-motivated witch-hunt.
Isabel has been fighting the Angolan government for corruption since 2018. The New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a detailed report on Isabel’s fortunes on January 19, 2020.
Angop, the Angola Press Agency, reported on Monday, November 28, 2022, that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Angola issued an international arrest warrant against Isabel Dos Santos with Interpol.
On December 19, 2022, a court order signed by Justice Daniel Geraldes stated that “all the balances of the current accounts with title or co-title, headquartered in all the banks, including term deposit accounts, other financial applications associated with those, including dossiers of securities in the name of the defendant Isabel Dos Santos, are seized.”
Some of the accounts that have been affected are said to be in Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde.
The Supreme Court also ordered the seizure of 70% of Isabel’s shares in Upstar Communicaço, the freezing of 70% of Isabel’s shares in Mozambique telecom company Mstar, and the seizure of 100% of shares in Cape Verde’s Unitel T+ and Sao Tome and Principe’s Unitel STP. Embalvidro, Unitel International Holdings, and Unitel International are also mentioned in the court order.
49-year-old Isabel was born in Baku, Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. She is the eldest child of José Eduardo Dos Santos and was one of the family members appointed to key government positions by their late father.
Isabel, the public face of the Dos Santos business network, was named CEO of the state oil company Sonangol in June 2016. However, she was deposed in November 2017 by Angola’s new President, who succeeded her father.
Isabel was named Africa’s richest woman in Forbes’ 2020 billionaires list, with a fortune worth more than $1.4 billion. She was removed from the Forbes list in January 2021, however, after her assets were seized in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
According to the Forbes’ Inside Story on how Isabel Dos Santos made $3 billion “between 2007 and 2010, at least $32 billion of oil revenue went missing from the federal ledger, according to the International Monetary Fund, which later tracked most of the money to ‘quasi-fiscal operations. Against this backdrop, his daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, rose to become Africa’s richest woman, with a net worth of $3.7 billion at her peak in 2014. Her empire began to crumble after her father left office.”
José Eduardo Dos Santos, her father and former Angolan President, died on July 8, 2022, after 38 years of dictatorial rule in Angola (1979 – 2017). He was Angola’s longest-serving president and Africa’s second longest-serving president after Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. He has been the leader of Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) since the country’s independence in 1975.