An international arbitration court has decided that Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president and Africa’s onetime wealthiest woman, must return to Angola her shares in Portugal’s Galp energy company worth 422 million euros ($500 million).
Dos Santos is accused of siphoning billions of dollars from state-owned enterprises during the almost four-decade reign of her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, over the oil-rich southern African country of Angola.
This week, a Dutch court ordered the controversial ex-first daughter, whose business assets have been frozen since 2019, to surrender shares worth $500 million to Angola’s state Sonangol energy company, which she headed until Lourenco took power.
The Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) has ruled that the sale of a stake in Angola’s Galp oil and gas company is invalid. The NAI says former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos paid the rest of the amount in local currency, worth little outside the country, rather than euros as agreed on the sales contract. Dos Santos’s six-percent stake in Galp is part of a myriad of investments in Angola and former colonial ruler Portugal worth about $3 billion.
Dos Santos has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations a politically driven witch hunt. Exem’s attorneys plan to file an appeal “with the competent court.”
Yas Banifatemi, one of Sonangol’s attorneys, told Dutch media that the court’s ruling included “nothing political.”
“The arbitration court ruled that Isabel dos Santos benefited herself with money stolen from Angolan citizens,” Banifatemi was quoted as saying in the Dutch daily newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad.
Isabel dos Santos is the eldest daughter of Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. She was accused of amassing a vast fortune thanks to the backing of her authoritarian father. The British-educated businesswoman has faced several allegations of plundering the public funds and funneling the money abroad. Her brother was sentenced to five years in prison last year for diverting state funds into offshore assets.