Billionaire Isabel dos Santos Denies Wrongdoing at Sonangol
(Bloomberg) -- Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said she did nothing wrong when she was chairwoman of state-owned oil company Sonangol and called a probe into the transfer of millions of dollars from the Luanda-based firm “political vengeance.”
Angolan newspaper Novo Jornal reported on Oct. 18 that Angola’s prosecuting authority started a criminal investigation into the transfer of $38 million from Sonangol authorized by dos Santos. Her successor at Sonangol, Carlos Saturnino, accused dos Santos last year of authorizing the transfer to a company in Dubai days after she was dismissed as chairwoman. Saturnino was sacked in May.
“To say there was a transfer order after my dismissal is simply false,” dos Santos said in statement emailed on Monday. “The fight against corruption can’t be used to feed an agenda of persecution or a witch hunt.”
Dos Santos said the fund-transfer was legal and was made while she was still in her position at Sonangol on Nov. 15, 2017, the day she was dismissed and before a new board was appointed the next day. She said payment instructions were given one or two days before her dismissal.
If Angolan authorities are serious about fighting corruption they should investigate why Sonangol had about $20 billion in debt at the end of 2015, before her appointment, and how this money was “used and lost,” said the 46-year-old dos Santos.
Dos Santos was dismissed as head of Sonangol amid a crackdown on corruption by Joao Lourenco, who replaced her father as president in 2017. Sonangol, long the main engine of Angola’s oil-focused economy, has been at the center of Lourenco’s anti-graft campaign.
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