Isabel do Santos and husband were the subject of reports on suspicious activity in the USA
Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, were the subject of two reports on suspicious activities in 2013 in the United States, Expresso reports today, as part of an investigation by the International Journalists Consortium.
This news appears in the scope of more than 2,000 confidential bank documents (‘FinCEN Files’) obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), of which Expresso, of the Impresa group, is a partner, and which reveal how some of the world’s largest banks, including HSBC, were used in fraud cases.
According to Expresso, the daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos “was the subject of two reports on suspicious activity in 2013 in the United States, one from JP Morgan and the other from Standard Chartered” due to “transfers linked to Unitel and the diamond business in which Sindika Dokolo was a partner in the Angolan State ”.
According to Expresso, the report has dozens of pages and was completed on October 16, 2013: “It is one of the two documents included in the FinCEN Files that are related to Isabel dos Santos. A JP Morgan Chase Bank compliance officer in the United States sent it the next day to FinCEN, the federal agency responsible for prosecuting and forwarding suspicions about potential money laundering schemes for possible investigation by law enforcement authorities. ”.
Although Isabel dos Santos and her father were not clients, “the report sent to FinCEN shows how JP Morgan had been indirectly involved, as a correspondent bank, in transfers related to the family and the Angolan State” and “there was a transfer , in particular, which drew the attention of the institution’s’ compliance ‘: Sindika Dokolo, Isabel dos Santos’ husband, on March 2, 2012, sent four million dollars to an account of a Dutch company, Melbourne Investments BV, that went through a corresponding JP Morgan account. ”
Now, as the bank “was unable to identify any other transfer related to Melbourne Investments BV or any public profile on it, this reinforced the possibility that it was a shell company with no commercial purpose”, the report reads, quoted by Expresso.
Within the scope of Luanda Leaks, another ICIJ investigation, there were already details about that amount and about Melbourne.
“This money was used by Sindika Dokolo to become a partner in the Angolan state company Sodiam in a luxury diamond company in Switzerland, De Grisogono. During this investigation, by the way, all the data collected indicated that the four million dollars would have been the only money placed by her husband in this business, in contrast to the 147 million placed by the Angolan State (although Dokolo argues that he invested a total of 115 million ), and in the meantime De Grisogono went bankrupt and Sodiam got a debt to the bank that Isabel dos Santos controlled in Angola, BIC ”, says Expresso.
Both Isabel dos Santos and her husband have denied, since the Luanda Leaks investigation, any wrongdoing.
“In any case, the total absence of information around Melbourne Investments led JP Morgan‘ compliance ’to bring together in the fall of 2013 everything it could about the couple,” he adds.
The report includes a list of 26 entities and persons – including Isabel dos Santos, Sindika and José Eduardo dos Santos – that could be related parties, encompassing Galp in Portugal, where the businesswoman had an indirect shareholding.
“Altogether, the bank identified a total of 829 million dollars in transfers between 2005 and 2013 related to the universe of these entities, but it put aside the overwhelming majority of them and concentrated on reviewing only a few tens of millions”, he says the Express.
There were identified movements made between July 3, 2006 and March 2, 2012 of accounts controlled by Sinkika Dokolo that passed through correspondent accounts of foreign banks at JP Morgan.
“In addition to the banks EuroBIC, BPI, Deutsche Bank, in Portugal, and BAI, Banco Totta and BESA, in Angola, Isabel dos Santos’s husband at that time had accounts in Cyprus (FMBE Bank), Luxembourg (Banque Pictet ), France (Credit du Nord) and Congo (Banque Internationale pour L’Afrique au Congo, BIAC) ”, he adds.
“According to the report found in the FinCEN Files, US $ 10 million inflows and outflows were detected in Dokolo’s accounts during these six years, with seven million corresponding to outflows, most of them from EuroBIC, in Portugal, and FBME in Cyprus, ”says the Express.
The person responsible for ‘compliance’ [who wants the institution to comply with the rules] “noted the existence of regular transfers of 100 thousand euros from the FBME to Banque Pictet in Luxembourg, commenting that ‘the frequency, volume and repetitive value, together with the different locations of the banks, they possibly indicate an attempt to fragment the movement of funds to hide the general materiality of cash flows and prevent this from being reported ‘.
According to the document, most of the money inflows from Isabel dos Santos’ husband were channeled to BESA in Angola and to BIAC in Congo.
“Since these transfers seem to be proportional to the movement of funds that left Angola to bank havens using non-transparent methods, the totality of the flows described above are reported as suspicious”, the document reads.
Expresso adds that JP Morgan also reported with risk potential a set of transfers of five million dollars between 2005 and 2011 originating from BAI in Angola, with the holder of Clínica Sagrada Família, belonging to the Endiama group, an Angolan state prospecting company. and diamond exploration, for an account of the now defunct BES, held by a company in Portugal.
“The suspicion was, in any case, inconsistent because the hypothesis raised by the compliance officer was that the recipient of the funds, a company containing the name Prestação de Serviços, SA, could possibly be Santoro Finance, Prestação de Serviços , SA, one of the companies of the Isabel dos Santos and Sindika couple in Lisbon ”, and“ the reason was that both companies partially coincide in the name ”.
Expresso contacted Sindika Dokolo and her lawyers, but none were available for comment.
However, there is yet another report – of October 18, 2013 – sent by Standard Chartered, in New York, to FinCEN, which, although it does not mention the Angolan businesswoman, refers “a transfer of 18.7 million dollars occurred seven years earlier, on October 13, 2006, originating from Unitel, the telecommunications company in Angola ”of which Isabel dos Santos is a shareholder and was president, and which was destined for BPI in Lisbon, in an account on behalf of the company Vidatel Limited, and who had gone through another account in New York.
“The bank’s report is, moreover, a little confusing because it aggregates a set of transfers originating in accounts of multiple companies under the name Unitel, in a number of countries, one of which is in fact the telecommunications company based in Angola that Isabel Santos is a shareholder, ”he says.
“Vidatel is an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, with Isabel dos Santos as the beneficiary and, through which, it holds 25% of Unitel in Angola”.