Isabel dos Santos officially charged with Fraud

Isabel dos Santos indicted
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State prosecutors in Angola have indicted Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of Angola’s former president, on fraud-related charges for mismanaging and embezzling funds during her 18-month stint as chair of the state’s oil firm, Sonangol.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Angola’s attorney general, Helder Pitta Gros, said the state was formally charging dos Santos in the criminal lawsuit with “money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management…forgery of documents, among other economic crimes.” The government is now trying to recover $1.1 billion from Isabel dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo.

The indictment comes only days after the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists and the Paris-based Platform to Protect Whistle-blowers in Africa along with 36 media houses released a report that revealed how Isabel dos Santos and Dokolo siphoned public funds from Angola to tax havens abroad. The released reports have been tagged the Luanda Leaks investigation.

Related: Isabel Dos Santos: Source of Africa’s Richest Woman Wealth Uncovered

The Luanda leaks which comprise of over 700,000 confidential financial and business records, also uncovered a sprawling network of notable Western bankers, lawyers, accountants and consultants, including PwC and Boston Consulting Group, whose services helped dos Santos to collect and conceal her fortune. Isabel dos Santos fortune is estimated by Forbes at $2.1 billion.

The implication of the Luanda leaks for Isabel dos Santos and her associates

On the same day, the charges were publicly announced, a Portuguese banker implicated in the corruption case, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha was found dead at his house in Lisbon. Da Cunha was head of private banking at Eurobic, the Portuguese bank where Isabel dos Santos was the main shareholder.

The bank had earlier announced that it had ended its relationship with dos Santos on Monday. Da Cunha also managed Sonangol’s account at Eurobic. Da Cunha died in the wake of the Bank of Portugal’s investigation into Eurobic’s procedures against money laundering.

While several investigations have attributed the roots of dos Santos’s fortune to strategic deals her father, José Eduardo, made during his 38-year presidency, the billionaire has maintained she is a self-made entrepreneur. She has repeatedly denied the state’s allegations against her and has insisted that she has always operated within the law.

Firms affiliated with dos Santos are reeling from the aftermath of the Luanda Leaks. Portugal’s market regulator, the Portuguese Securities Market Commission, has launched open inquiries into the two companies where dos Santos holds stakes including oil company Galp Energia and telecommunications firm, NOS. The head of PwC’s tax advisory team for Angola and Portugal, Jaime Esteves has reportedly stepped down.