Angola: Richest woman in Africa accused of nepotism and corruption

Isabel dos Santos, richest woman in Africa and daughter of Angola's former president José Eduardo dos Santos who ruled Africa’s second-largest oil producing nation for almost 40 years, allegedly built her fortune including ownership in one of Angola’s leading breweries, on nepotism and corruption rather than “on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance,” as she claimed herself in a tweet on Sunday.

This became known on Sunday through the release of the so-called Luanda Leaks which are based on a trove of more than 715,000 emails, charts, contracts, audits and accounts obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and journalists in 20 countries. The papers prove that Dos Santos benefited from extraordinary opportunities afforded to her by the government of her father, who stepped down in 2017.

Angola's prosecutors last month froze bank accounts and assets owned by dos Santos and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, son of a millionaire from Kinshasa, alleging that their dealings with the country’s publicly owned oil and diamond companies had “harmed” the state to the tune of more than USD 1bn. State companies “transferred enormous amounts of foreign currency to companies abroad whose ultimate beneficiaries are the defendants, without receiving the agreed return,” the court order states.

In 2017, Sociedade de Distribuição de Bebidas de Angola (SODIBA), a brand new greenfield brewery worth more than USD100 million (about  EUR 85 million), was inaugurated in Bom Jesus, Ícolo e Bengo, 60 km south-east of Angola’s capital Luanda. The brewery, which is owned by dos Santos and her husband has a capacity of 1.44 million hl of beer with the possibility to duplicate production at a later stage (, 20.11.2017).

According to the leaked information, the venture was among others financed by funds of a bank, which is 75 percent owned by the Angolan state and a loan by German development bank KfW. The money of around EUR 50 million, was presumably used to buy brewing equipment and two filling lines from Krones in Germany without extensive prior examination of the business. Dos Santos' father used his influence to approve the investment project and the government also promised tax relief.

“There is an orchestrated attack by the current government that is completely politically motivated, it’s completely unfounded,” Dos Santos told BBC News. “I can say my holdings are commercial, there are no proceeds from contracts or public contracts or money that has been deviated from other funds.”

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