BY Ben Ebuka, 6:55pm January 01, 2023,

How Africa’s first female billionaire lost $1 billion dollars in a day

Photo Credit -- Nuno Coimbra

The Angolan Supreme Court recently ordered a preventive seizure of assets worth $1 billion belonging to the daughter of the former President of Angola, José Eduardo Dos Santos, as requested from Angola’s Public Ministry.

Isabel Dos Santos, the first female billionaire in Africa, often referred to as ‘Princess’, is under investigation for embezzlement of state funds, influence peddling, and money laundering, of which she has denied the accusations as a politically-induced witch-hunt.

Since 2018, Isabel has been in a legal battle with the Angolan government for corruption. On January 19, 2020, the New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a detailed report on how Isabel made her fortunes.

On Monday, November 28, 2022, Angop, the Angola Press Agency reported that the Attorney General’s office (PGR) in Angola issued an international arrest warrant against Isabel Dos Santos with Interpol.

A court order signed by Justice Daniel Geraldes, dated December 19, 2022, stated “all the balances of the current accounts with title or co-title, headquartered in all the banks, including term deposit accounts, other financial applications that are associated to those, including dossiers of securities in the name of the defendant Isabel Dos Santos, are seized.”

Some of the affected accounts are said to be in Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde.

The Supreme Court also ordered the seizure of 70% of Isabel’s shares in Upstar Communicação, the freezing of 70% of shares in Mozambique telecom company Mstar, and the seizure of 100% of shares of Unitel T+ in Cape Verde and Unitel STP in Sao Tome and Principe. Other companies mentioned in the court order are Embalvidro, Unitel International Holdings, and Unitel International.

49-year-old Isabel was born in Baku, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. She is the eldest child of José Eduardo Dos Santos and was among the family members appointed by their late father to head key government positions. 

Isabel, was seen as the public face of the Dos Santos business network and was appointed the head of the state oil firm Sonangol in June 2016. But she was removed in November 2017 by the new Angolan President who succeeded her father.

Isabel was in Forbes‘ 2020 billionaires list as Africa’s richest woman with a wealth valued above $1.4 billion. However, she dropped from the Forbes list in January 2021 after her assets were confiscated in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

According to the Forbes’ Inside Story on how Isabel Dos Santos made $3 billion “between 2007 and 2010, at least $32 billion of oil revenue went missing from the federal ledger, according to the International Monetary Fund, which later tracked most of the money to ‘quasi-fiscal operations. It was against this backdrop that his daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, became Africa’s richest woman, worth $3.7 billion at her peak in 2014. Her empire began to unravel after her father retired from office.”

Her father and former Angolan President, José Eduardo Dos Santos, died on Friday, July 8, 2022, after 38 years of dictatorial rule in Angola (1979 – 2017). He was the longest-serving president in Angola and the second longest-serving president in Africa after Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. He was the leader of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the ruling party in Angola since the country’s independence in 1975.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: January 1, 2023


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