Courts order accounts freeze of Isabel dos Santos’ friends
The Angolan judicial authorities has applied through the Portuguese judicial system for the bank accounts of three of Isabel dos Santos’ friends to be frozen in Portugal.
The disgraced Angolan tycoon and daughter of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos is accused of money laundering in both Portugal and Angola via shell companies as well as defrauding the Angolan State-owned oil company Sonangol.
According to the newspaper Correio da Manhã, the accounts of Mário Leite da Silva, Paula Oliveira and Sara Raikundalia were frozen by the legal authorities in Angola.
The legal letter ordering the seizure was made after a legal letter had been sent from Angola to Portugal in January 2020 in which the Angolan authorities requested the preventative seizure in Portugal of the goods of Isabel dos Santos and her three friends to the total value of €1.15Bn .
The seizure of the accounts, revealed in an agreement made at a Lisbon court regarding an appeal from Zopt (a holding that integrates the company Sonae and Isabel dos Santos as shareholder of telecommunications company Nos), aims to act as a guarantee for any future compensation to be paid to Angola.
Once considered Africa’s richest woman according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth exceeding US$2Bn by magazine Forbes, the magazine dropped her from the list in January 2021, stating that it was not possible to calculate her wealth, given the freezing of her assets in Angola, Portugal and the Netherlands. Additionally, according to Forbes, she owes $340 million in debt to the Portuguese company PT Ventures.
In 2013 Forbes described how dos Santos acquired her wealth by taking stakes in companies doing business in Angola, suggesting that her wealth came almost entirely from her family’s power and connections.
The Angolan Government has, since 2018, been trying to prosecute Isabel dos Santos for past corruption crimes that may have led to Angola’s ongoing recession crisis. However, she remains in exile.
On 30 December 2019, the Luanda Provincial Court ordered the freezing of dos Santos’s Angolan bank accounts and the seizure of her stake in local companies, including Unitel and Banco de Fomento Angola.
She is under investigation in Portugal and has since assumed the United Arab Emirates as her official country of residence. The Angolan Government is in a legal battle for the confiscation of dos Santos’s assets in Portugal, a process that is already in operation in the form of this legal letters sent to Portugal to stop the transfer of funds from Portuguese Commercial Bank to a Russian bank.