Isabel dos Santos charged with fraud

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Isabel dos Santos has officially been accused fraud by Angola’s attorney general Helder Pitta Gros.

The accusations relate to dos Santos’ time at the government-owned oil company Sonangol.

In a news conference held on Wednesday evening, Pitta Gros told the press “Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management, forgery of documents, among other economic crimes.”

He went on to confirm that an international arrest warrant would be issued for dos Santos and five others who live abroad if they did not return to Angola willingly. Adding that “at the moment, the concern is to notify and get them to voluntarily come to face justice”.

The entire saga started with the Luanda Leaks revelation where more than 700,000 documents were leaked by the Platform to Protect Whistle-blowers in Africa and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) detailing how dos Santos came about her business empire including presidential orders she reportedly benefitted from, amassing her $2 billion fortune.

As result she has been accused of exploiting her country and her position as the daughter of the former president of Angola, Jose Eduardo.

One such company caught in the scandal is Angola’s largest telco, Unitel, which she is its biggest shareholder. In one of the Luanda Leaks documents it shows Santos having arranged for Unitel to lend €350 million to a company she started called Unitel International Holdings. 

According to the BBC, the documents show that Dos Santos signed off on the loans as both lender and borrower, which is a clear conflict of interest. Despite the name, Dos Santos owns Unitel International Holdings entirely and it has no connections to the aforementioned telco.