Monday, January 20, 2020

Angola - National liberation?

Africa's richest woman made her fortune through exploiting her own country, and corruption. Isabel dos Santos, who is known as “the princess” in Angola, the oil-rich nation her father ruled as president for almost four decades, has long denied that her estimated $2.2bn (£1.7bn) fortune is the result of nepotism or corruption. 

The Luanda Leaks are based on a trove of 715,000 emails, charts, contracts, audits and accounts. Documents show how she and her husband were allowed to buy valuable state assets in a series of suspicious deals. 

The leaked documents also show  Dos Santos approved $58m of suspicious payments to a consultancy company in Dubai called Matter Business Solutions.
She says she has no financial interest in Matter, but the leaked documents reveal it was run by her business manager and owned by a friend.

The businesswoman, who spends much of her time in London, controls interests across Africa and Europe spanning banking, telecoms, TV, cement, diamonds, alcohol, supermarkets and real estate. The material reveals an opaque network of about 400 companies, many of them offshore, connected to Dos Santos, Dokolo and their associates, and the assistance given to the couple in managing them by a coterie of European and American management consultants, accountants and lawyers.

1. The state oil company Sonangol sold Dokolo what has become the couple’s most valuable asset: a stake in the Portuguese oil corporation Galp, now worth €750m after an initial loan-backed payment of just €11m.

 2. A total of $115m in payments to consultancy firms, ordered while Dos Santos was chair of the state oil company, were routed through a Dubai company controlled by her associates.
 3. A business venture with the state diamond company allegedly resulted in $200m of public debt propping up an ailing Swiss jewellery brand partly owned by Dokolo.

4. Two Dos Santos companies and their subcontractors stood to collect up to $500m in fees from a Dubai-style real estate development in the Angolan capital, Luanda, that was later cancelled by the new president for “over-invoicing” and “disproportionate compensation”.
The former president's daughter has made the UK her home and owns expensive properties in central London.

Andrew Feinstein, the head of Corruption Watch, says the documents show how Ms Dos Santos exploited her country at the expense of ordinary Angolans.
"Every time she appears on the cover of some glossy magazine somewhere in the world, every time that she hosts one of her glamorous parties in the south of France, she is doing so by trampling on the aspirations of the citizens of Angola."

Dos Santos and her half-brothers and sisters are among the most prominent members of the oligarchy of powerful families in Angola. Her father came to office in 1979 as head of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). After the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos and the MPLA consolidated power by bringing the most valuable sectors of the economy into government ownership. 

The spoils were shared with a select group with links to politics and the military. As a result, Africa’s second-largest oil producing nation became known as one of the most corrupt countries on Earth, ranking near the bottom of the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.
“These are the classic symptoms of a captured state,” said Steve Goodrich, a senior research manager at Transparency International UK, after reviewing the Luanda Leaks findings. “Here we have industry and politics all in one family, with no apparent separation of powers.”
The blue chip firms PwC and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) collected millions in fees, providing services such as auditing of accounts and management consultancy.
Isabel dos Santos’s half-brother, José Filomeno dos Santos, is on trial for the attempted looting of $500m from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. He has pleaded not guilty. Her half-sister, Welwitschia dos Santos, a member of parliament, was impeached last year after moving to Britain.

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