Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of former president of Angola, diverted hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into offshore accounts
An award-winning investigative team has published a bulk of files which allegedly show how Africa’s richest woman, Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of former president of Angola, diverted hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into offshore accounts.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which uncovered this, have 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.
Angola’s prosecutors last month froze the bank accounts and assets owned by the 46-year-old businesswoman and her husband Sindika Dokolo, which she described as a baseless political vendetta.
“Based on a trove of more than 715,000 files, our investigation highlights a broken international regulatory system that allows professional services firms to serve the powerful with almost no questions asked,” the ICIJ wrote.
The group said its team of 120 reporters in 20 countries were 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”.
She however, took to Twitter to refute the claims, launching a chain of around 30 tweets in Portuguese and English, accusing journalists involved in the investigation of telling “lies”. “My fortune is built on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance,” she tweeted.
She also blasted “the racism and prejudice” of SIC-Expresso, a Portuguese TV station and newspaper, and member of the ICIJ, “that recall the colonial era when an African could never be considered equal to a European”.
Dos Santos’s lawyer dismissed the ICIJ findings as a “highly coordinated attack” planned by Angola’s current rulers, in a statement.
Dos Santos herself mentioned that the file dump was part of a “witch hunt” meant to discredit her and her father. 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 who he hand-picked, Joao Lourenco, forced her out of the oil company after becoming president in 2017. Dos Santos mentioned that she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.
The ICIJ investigation said Western consulting firms such as PwC and Boston Consulting Group were “apparently ignoring red flags” while helping her stash away public assets. “Regulators around the globe have virtually ignored the key role Western professionals play in maintaining an offshore industry that drives money laundering and drains trillions from public coffers,” the report said.
Its document trove included redacted letters allegedly proving how consultants sought out ways to open non-transparent bank accounts.
One confidential document, which was allegedly drafted by Boston Consulting in September 2015, outlined a complex scheme for the oil company to move its money offshore. The investigation also published a similar 99-page presentation from KPMG.
None of the companies named issued immediate statements in response to the investigation.
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