Amid scandal, ‘Africa’s richest woman’ sells European assets

International

In this March 5, 2015 photo, Isabel dos Santos, reputedly Africa’s richest woman, attends the opening of an art exhibition featuring works from the collection of her husband and art collector Sindika Dokolo in Porto, Portugal. On Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, Angola’s foreign minister Manuel Augusto said that there is no political motivation behind the government’s demand for more than $1 billion from dos Santos, her husband and a Portuguese business partner. Isabel dos Santos is a daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the oil- and diamond-rich nation for 38 years until 2017. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The billionaire daughter of a former African leader is shedding some of her investments in Europe after she came under official investigation for alleged money-laundering and corruption.

Isabel dos Santos has invested heavily in recent years in Portugal, the former colonial ruler of her homeland Angola. But amid a widening scandal over her business dealings, Portuguese engineering company Efacec announced Friday she is selling her 70% stake in the firm.

Since the scandal erupted earlier in the week Dos Santos, reputedly Africa’s richest woman, has also agreed to sell her stake in Portuguese bank EuroBic, though she has denied any wrongdoing in her business affairs.

Three people close to Dos Santos have also quit their non-executive seats on the board of Portuguese telecoms company NOS, where she has a significant investment.

Dos Santos also has an important stake in national energy company Galp Energia, The company has not made any official comment about its relationship with her.

Angolan authorities suspect Dos Santos embezzled millions of dollars from the country’s state oil company Sonangol and laundered it through foreign banks.

Dos Santos was appointed head of Sonangol by her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, before he stepped down in 2017 after 38 years in power.

Angola’s attorney-general, Helder Pitta Gros, said he and his Portuguese counterpart are eyeing cooperation in the Dos Santos case.

Angola “thinks that the money that was used by Isabel dos Santos for some business deals in Portugal was acquired illicitly,” he said in an interview Friday with Portuguese public broadcaster RTP.

An exchange of information would be in both countries’ interest, Pitta Gros said.

Senior Angolan officials have long made major investments in Portuguese real estate and companies. Dos Santos also has stakes in dozens of companies worldwide.

The Bank of Portugal and the Lisbon stock market regulator say they are looking into Dos Santos’ Portuguese investments after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists earlier this week accused her of using “unscrupulous deals” to build her fortune, estimated at $2 billion.

After sifting through more than 715,000 confidential financial and business records provided by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, an advocacy group based in Paris, the consortium detected more than 400 companies and subsidiaries in 41 countries linked to her or her husband, Sindika Dokolo.

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