The Empress Has no Clothes

Isabel dos Santos is the woman who once boasted to Forbes magazine that she was Africa’s first female billionaire. Although Angolans knew she owed her fortune to nepotism and wholesale theft from the public purse, Isabel wove an image of herself as an astute global entrepreneur. But her reputation began to unravel along with her business empire after her father José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down as President of Angola last year. As President, Dos Santos had funnelled millions of dollars from the state oil company Sonangol to ‘loans’ to bankroll her businesses. Then, before leaving office, he installed Isabel as the head of Sonangol. The effect was catastrophic. The new President marshalled the evidence and ensured his own position was sufficiently secure before acting. First, Isabel was sacked as the head of Sonangol. Then she was removed, step by step, from each of the lucrative contracts or positions awarded […]

Read more

Isabel dos Santos: The Fall of Africa’s Richest Woman

Just think for a minute. In a two-year span, a father gave his daughter, among several contracts, four that were worth over US $22 billion. The father is then President José Eduardo dos Santos, and the daughter is Isabel, Africa’s richest woman. These were the golden days of the presidential family’s capture of Angola. Period. In the past month, with a stroke of a pen, General João Lourenço has annulled the four egregious contracts. The former “princess” is crying foul, and is threatening to sue the Angolan state however, the state is calling out her bluff. Her fortune is about to tumble like a house of cards, just as her father’s power fell flat once he left office after 38 years. Through her father’s presidential decrees, Isabel built her fortune. Now, ironically, the man her father personally chose to replace him is first and foremost taking away the family’s fortunes […]

Read more

Ex-President dos Santos and His Son’s Billion-Dollar Scam

Before agreeing to step aside after 38 years in power, Angola’s former President, José Eduardo dos Santos, made sure he obtained guarantees of permanent immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed during his time in office. For Angola’s ruling party MPLA and lawmakers, it was a pragmatic necessity: how else could Dos Santos be persuaded to step aside? The man had an international reputation as one of Africa’s most zealous kleptocrats, using his position to enrich himself and his extended family. Six months on, however, a complex international investigation into an attempted US $1.5 billion fraud involving his son José Filomeno dos Santos “Zenú” has put Angolans openly discussing whether the Dos Santos family en masse should have those immunity guarantees removed. His son is firmly in the sights of criminal investigators who have documentary evidence that it was his father who oversaw the attempted scam. The Weakest Link As […]

Read more

Sonangol on the Brink

Putting the President’s daughter in charge of Angola’s national oil company has been such a ‘good move’ that the company is now reported to be on the brink of bankruptcy. The ‘genius’ businesswoman and her cabal of Portuguese consultants have succeeded only in a level of mismanagement greater than ever before. And so it has come to pass that the state monopoly that controls Angola’s main source of income is now reduced to the role of beggar. Maka Angola is reliably informed that on May 17 Isabel dos Santos went to see the Finance Minister, Archer Mangueira, to request an injection of three billion dollars (!!) to rescue Sonangol from imminent bankruptcy. A source close to the Portuguese consultancy firm which has been the de facto administrator of Sonangol on behalf of Isabel dos Santos, told Maka Angola that the Minister had to inform the President of the Sonangol Board […]

Read more

Isabel dos Santos and the Right of Reply

Isabel dos Santos, self-described ‘African billionaire businesswoman’ and head of the Angolan national oil company, Sonangol, (appointed by her father, the President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos) was clearly rattled by the report published here on Maka Angola last week, entitled ‘Sonangol’s Slush Fund Salaries’ and has sent an official response. Maka Angola is delighted to afford the Sonangol President the right of reply. Sonangol’s ‘Official Reaction’ states (without offering proof) that the report was incorrect. And yet, instead of supplying alternative data, the response serves to confirm the inside information supplied to Maka Angola. (1) Sonangol’s whistleblowers reported elevated salaries for the board. And outrageous expenses and consultancy fees for a cabal of Portuguese nationals, effected overseas to avoid paying Angolan tax. The President’s daughter confirms that fees for the board of directors were raised to keep pace with inflation – in effect at the very least a […]

Read more

Portuguese Corruption Trial Snares Angola’s Vice President

The net is closing around Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, the former CEO of the country’s oil giant Sonangol and a man long accused of being a conduit for the diversion of oil revenues into international business deals linked to the Angolan President, his family and close associates. He faces charges in connection with the alleged suborning of a Portuguese prosecutor. Orlando Figueira, in 2013 to set aside an investigation into money-laundering involving the purchase of a US $4 million luxury apartment in Lisbon. Both the prosecutor and Vicente’s lawyer, Paulo Blanco, have also been indicted on charges of violating court confidentiality regarding the investigation into the Angolan subsidiary (BESA) of the Banco de Espirito Santo (BES), which collapsed in 2014. If proven, then by suborning the prosecutor, the Angolans succeeded in interfering with the course of justice in Portugal to prevent any prosecution in the BESA investigation which, by unravelling […]

Read more

Time to Say Goodbye

Thank you, José Eduardo dos Santos, for your decision to step down as President of Angola after 38 years. It’s a decision that gives us all hope for the future. Only Robert Mugabe and Teodoro Obiang Nguema remain of the veteran African tyrants who for so long have choked the life out of their countries. Could your decision inspire them to follow suit and arrange a peaceful transition of power? Naturally, there’s a great deal of speculation as to why you have finally come to the realization that it was time to hand the baton to another. Some say it’s because of poor health. Others say your authority had been undermined by the increasing number of corruption scandals attached to your government. Whatever the reason, the decision is sound and must be as great a relief to you as it is to the Angolan people. Before you go, it’s probably […]

Read more

Band-Aid Needed for Angola’s Red Cross

Maka Angola has learned that the Angolan Red Cross is in considerable disarray. Numerous sources have come forward to allege that the charity is riven by mismanagement and corruption. Allegations of theft, embezzlement and diversion of funds are ignored, while provincial offices and staff are starved of resources and salaries go unpaid. The President of the Angolan Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Angolana, CVA) is Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos, and a reputed billionaire. When installed as CVA President back in 2006, to lead an organization with 140 staff, she announced a commitment to good governance. “The limited resources available to us to tackle such an immense task require very careful management, and oblige us to make the best of what we have, to manage with the utmost rigor and to adopt the principles of good governance. It is important that this administration should be […]

Read more

Isabel dos Santos’ Missing Declaration of Assets

On June 2, 2016 President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed his daughter Isabel dos Santos to the two most powerful roles in the state oil company, Sonangol: by decree he named her Chairman of the Board of Directors and Non-Executive Administrator. Notwithstanding the case pending before the Supreme Court to obtain an injunction to stay her appointment, Isabel – like any other administrator – is required by law to submit a declaration of income and assets to the Attorney General within 30 days of taking office. And yet a source within the Attorney General’s office tells us that five months later neither Isabel dos Santos nor any other member of the board of directors has submitted these legal requirements. Maka Angola contacted the office of the Attorney General to confirm this matter but he declined to comment. To be clear: the law which obliges Isabel dos Santos to submit a […]

Read more

Greasy Palms in Angola’s Oil Industry

Today Maka Angola can shed light on a relatively clumsy sleight of hand by the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sonangol USA. Step forward Baptista Sumbe, who occupied that position between 1997 and 2009. In 2006, for the sum of US $400,000, Baptista Sumbe and his wife Rosa acquired approximately 550 square meters of land, demarcated as Plot 4, Block 3, Section 11 of the Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. They borrowed $306,000 from the Compass Bank on June 26, 2006 to help pay for it. So far, so legit. But Baptista Sumbe didn’t really need a bank loan. He had already gone knocking on the door of Sonangol USA, the company in which he was Chairman of the Board. On November 1, 2006, Mr and Mrs Sumbe had arranged to borrow from Sonangol USA the sum of US $1,750,000 for their personal use. They […]

Read more
1 2 3 5