Isabel dos Santos, a daughter of a former president of Angola who is Africa’s richest woman, said on Thursday that she owed nothing to the Angolan state and once again accused the office of the attorney-general of “lying”, using forged evidence to seize her assets and deceive the authorities in Portugal, where she has long had significant investments.
The comments, through her communications office, were her response to the denial by the office of the attorney-general of allegations she made on Tuesday that the Angolan authorities had used a forged passport as part of the basis for decisions to to seize her bank accounts and shareholdings in companies.
The attorney-general contradicted dos Santos’ version of events, according to which the preemptive seizure was based on a forged passport bearing the signature of the late Bruce Lee, the kung fu and film star. According to the officials, the seizure “was not based on any identification document, but rather on documents that attested to the fear of dissipation of the assets” and that a copy of the passport in question is in the case file because its authenticity was being investigated.
According to the attorney-general’s office, the seizure of dos Santos’s assets in Angola was ordered as part of an injunction, in civil proceedings, based on information from the Angolan embassy in Japan, noting that the said passport was under investigation by Angola’s Migration and Foreigners Service (SME).
According to the office, several civil and criminal proceedings are underway against dos Santos, with the state claiming more than $5 billion (€4.6 billion).
In a statement issued on Thursday, the daughter of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos insists that the only evidence of the “alleged dissipation of assets” submitted to the civil court in Luanda is based on a “false narrative” of an alleged sale of her shares in Unitel, an Angolan telecommunications company, to an alleged national of an Arab country and an alleged investment abroad made by a national of an Arab country who was said to be her representative, in an investment worth between €10 million and €1 billion in Japan.
Dos Santos also claims that the documents that testified to the fear of dissipation of assets that are in the file “are all fake” and that this is shown by the fact that the courts accepted documents in Japanese that were not even translated.
“Just because it accepted a series of totally forged documents, the Provincial Court, for reasons that are not outlined here, took as proven that the situation was an emergency and ordered the seizure,” her statement reads. “Without proof of this danger of dissipation of the assets, no civil seizure should ever have been decreed.”
She also states that the attorney-general’s office “ordered” a ruling on the part the Criminal Chamber of Angola’s Supreme Court on a request for the seizure of her assets in Portugal, “to deceive Portuguese justice”.
As for her alleged debts to the Angolan state, dos Santos questions why the amount initially claimed was €1.2 billion and that then increased to €4.6 billion.
“For the sake of clarity, Isabel dos Santos does not owe the Angolan state any money and there is no debt of hers registered in any part of the General State Budget,” the statement reads.
Dos Santos notes that there are several forged documents in the files of the civil case in Angola, whie saying that she does not know of the content of the criminal cases, which have been “kept secret until today”.
On 30 December last year, Luanda’s provincial court decreed the preventive seizure of bank accounts and holdings of Isabel dos Santos, of her husband, Sindika Dokolo, and of Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva, former chairman of the board at Banco de Fomento de Angola (BFA) and her business associate.
In this case the Angolan state, represented by the office of public prosecutions, issued an extensive written argument that, in general terms, maintains that dos Santos and her husband used funds from state oil company Sonangol, whose board she chaired, to do business. It claims that she owed the state more than €1 billion.
In addition to the seizure of bank accounts and shareholdings in Angola, shareholdings in several companies in Portugal have also been seized.
The businesswoman is also charged in a criminal case in Angola for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her time in charge at Sonangol.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism on 19 January released over 715,000 files under the name of ‘Luanda Leaks’, detailing alleged financial schemes set up by dos Santos and her husband to allow them to siphon off Angolan state funds through tax havens.
Dos Santos has denied all wrongdoing, saying that she is a victim of political persecution, because of her family origins.