Mosquito: Isabel dos Santos’ Proxy

África Monitor reported in its March 4 edition on two investments made recently in Portugal by the Angolan businessman António Mosquito: investments that were shown to be initiatives of Isabel dos Santos.


According to the publication, Isabel dos Santos chose “not to reveal her self” as the buyer of the purchase of 66.7 percent of the construction company Soares da Costa and of 27.5 percent of Controlinveste, a media conglomerate that owns the daily paper Diário de Notícias and the radio station TSF.


António Mosquito became chairman of Soares da Costa, and through his Grupo António Mosquito (GAM) invested €70 million (US$ 96.1 million) in the business.


Regarding the Controlinveste deal there is no information available about the size of the Angolan investment, which was made alongside an investment by Luís Montez, the son-in-law of the Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva.


The report by journalist Xavier de Figueiredo states that the conditions upon which António Mosquito was used by Isabel dos Santos as her figurehead “were contractually stipulated in an agreement in terms of which his own interests in the deal were reduced”.


Maka Angola has been investigating the case for several months and can add two new facts to O África Monitor’s excellent investigation.


First, according to documents in the possession of this website, Mosquito holds 40 percent of GAM, of which he is chairman and CEO, while Isabel dos Santos owns 20 percent of the shareholding and is a director of the group. The remaining 40 percent is owned by anonymous shareholders.


Second, Isabel dos Santos rewarded Mosquito for being her representative in the deals by granting him 10 percent of her investments in Soares de Costa and Controlinveste.


O África Monitor’s analysis emphasises that Isabel dos Santos’s name was hidden from the transactions as a way of dealing with “internal negative reactions” to “her role as a major investor in Portugal”.


According to the publication, this strategy also serves “not to damage the reputation [of Ms dos Santos] who has to choose investment opportunities based on criteria of pure economic rationality, which are absent in the case of Controlinveste”.

The Angolan ruling elite has been buying up shares in the ailing Portuguese media essentially to censor critical news on Angola, and promote a better image of the regime. The Portuguese media still commands major influence in and on Angolan affairs, because of the common Portuguese language and the historical colonial ties.


It is known in Angola that António Mosquito does not have the financial means to support the investments that he makes in Portugal. He has not done well in the area of oil and car dealership, which has been his main source of income as the representative of the Audi and Volkswagen brands.


In the past, Mosquito has expressed opposition to the presidential family becoming involved in his business interests. In 2005 he protested when 16 percent of the shares that his company, Mbakassi e Filhos, should have had in Ancar – Automóveis de Angola were arbitrarily transferred to Tchizé dos Santos, President José Eduardo dos Santos’s second daughter.


Ancar was funding the business interests of Acapir, a company belonging to Tchizé dos Santos; of GEFI, a holding company belonging to the ruling MPLA party; of Suninvest, a holding company belonging to the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation, the president’s private charity; and of Mbakassi e Filhos, in setting up an assembly plant for Volkswagen and Skoda vehicles in Luanda.


Documents in Maka Angola ’s possession show that at that time the chairman of the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation (FESA), Ismael Diogo, chaired a meeting “in the capacity of mandated representative of His Excellency the President of the Republic José Eduardo dos Santos, in order to clarify the circumstances and the truthfulness of ACAPIR Ltd’s participation in the company ‘Ancar – Automóveis de Angola’ was due to one shareholder being the daughter of the Head of State in order to obtain the latter’s favours in Ancar Worldwide Investments Holding’s investment project …”


The minutes of the meeting concluded that “at no time did Ancar Worldwide Investments Holding justify the offer of 16 percent to ACAPIR Ltd on the basis that it would benefit from the favours of His Excellency the President of the Republic in approving the project”.


The chairman of Volkswagen reacted by cancelling the project, according to information published by the German press in July 2005. More details of this operation can be found in the report MPLA Limited“.