18 June, 2024
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Isabel dos Santos loses fight against asset freeze

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International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in a report said, Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s authoritarian former president is accused of procuring loans for her “own personal benefit” while she was a director of an Angolan telecommunications company.

According to ICIJ, Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos has lost a legal battle in London’s High Court to prevent a freeze on up to £580 million ($733 million) of her assets.

Dos Santos, the daughter of former president José Eduardo dos Santos who ruled Angola for 38 years, is being sued by Angolan telecommunications company Unitel over loans made to a company she controlled, Unitel International Holdings (UIH), incorporated in the Netherlands, the BBC reported.

Court documents show Unitel accused dos Santos of procuring over £365 million ($461 million) in loans at below commercial value from the company in 2012 and 2013 for UIH and her “own personal benefit,” according to the BBC.

At the time, dos Santos was serving on Unitel’s board of directors and the company is reportedly seeking damages of £580 million arising from decisions she made while in the role. The court heard UIH ceased paying interest on the loans in early 2020.

Dos Santos has long been dogged by corruption allegations, which she has claims are part of a long-running political vendetta against her.

ICIJ’s 2020 Luanda Leaks investigation revealed how she and her allies benefited from lucrative deals in oil, diamonds, telecommunications, banking and real estate under her father’s rule.

At a hearing in November, Unitel asked the court for a worldwide freezing order on dos Santos’ assets, which a judge granted on Dec. 20, according to Reuters. The order’s details will be agreed upon at a later hearing.

The judge also ordered dos Santos to disclose her assets — including properties worth £33.5 million ($42 million) in the United Kingdom and more than £86.5 million ($95 million) in Monaco and Dubai — to Unitel by next month, BBC reported.

In 2022, Angolan President Joao Lourenco, José Eduardo dos Santos’ hand-picked successor, nationalized Unitel months after Angolan officials seized dos Santos’ shares, effectively ending her connection to the company.

Dos Santos denies wrongdoing in the London case and said the allegations stem from a political feud arising from her attempts to “root out corruption” when she led Sonangol, Angola’s state-owned oil company.

ICIJ previously found that hours after Lourenco fired dos Santos from her position as head of Sonangol, millions were transferred from the corporation to a Dubai-based company controlled by an associate of dos Santos.

In June, a Dutch court ruled that forged documents and director mismanagement enabled dos Santos to illegally siphon 52.6 million euros ($57.5 million) from Sonangol via Dutch private limited companies.

Dos Santos is already subject to asset freezes in several countries, including Angola and Portugal.

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