Ver Angola


Isabel dos Santos accused of 12 crimes in the process involving Sonangol management

Businesswoman Isabel dos Santos is accused of 12 crimes in the process involving her management at the Angolan state oil company, between 2016 and 2017, according to the indictment to which Lusa had access this Monday.

: Eneias Rodrigues/Lusa
Eneias Rodrigues/Lusa  

Isabel dos Santos is accused of embezzlement, qualified fraud, abuse of power, abuse of trust, forgery of documents, criminal association, economic participation in business, influence peddling, tax fraud, qualified tax fraud (one crime each) and two crimes of money laundering.

In addition to the daughter of the former Angolan President, the accused are Paula Oliveira, friend and partner (six crimes), her former manager and friend Mário Leite da Silva (six crimes), her former financial administrator at Sonangol Sarju Raikundalia (nine crimes) and the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) (two crimes).

According to the order, dated January 11, the defendants caused the Angolan State a loss of more than 208 million dollars, divided between 176 million dollars, 39 million euros and around of 94 million kwanzas involving unduly paid salaries, loss-making sales, tax fraud and fraudulent payments to companies.

The Angolan Public Prosecutor's Office, which analyzes in this document the management of José Eduardo dos Santos' daughter between June 2016 and November 2017, points out several irregularities, including a parallel management scheme and contracts signed with companies linked to it, through which illegal payments were made.

According to the accusation, within the scope of her administration and taking advantage of her status as the daughter of the President (who passed away in 2022), Isabel dos Santos "duly agreed with the defendants Mário Silva, Sarju Raikundalia and Paula Oliveira, meticulously created a plan to defraud vigorously the Angolan State, persuading the Board of Directors to take decisions that benefited them".

The Angolan businesswoman was initially invited to join the evaluation committee intended to increase the efficiency of the oil sector, as an independent consultant for Wise Intelligence Solution.

This company, which "had no relevant activity and was dormant" had a consultancy contract with the Ministry of Finance, worth 8.5 million euros, and coordinated a group of other consultants, including the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), PwC, VdA (Vieira de Almeida law firm) and Accenture.

On June 3, 2016, Isabel dos Santos was appointed President of the Board of Directors of Sonangol, a structure that also included Sarju Raikundalia, initially a non-executive director, who became executive in charge of the oil company's financial management, at a time when which held shares in PwC.

According to the Public Ministry, Isabel dos Santos began by centralizing the management and administration of the Sonangol group's businesses, with the Board of Directors (CA) and the Executive Council functioning as a single entity, having taken with her consultants from PwC, BCG and VdA to set up a parallel management scheme.

The accused allegedly deceived Sonangol's CA into deciding to hire Wise – whose contract with the Ministry of Finance had expired – despite the conflict of interests, having authorized supposed overdue payments via Sonangol Limited (London) to this company by Investec bank.

However, after executing the payment orders, he closed Sonangol's accounts in Hong Kong as they were associated with suspected money laundering operations, constraints that forced Isabel dos Santos to open, in 2017, bank accounts held by Sonangol in banks Millenium BCP, BFA, BIC Angola and Eurobic, entities in which he also had interests.

Faced with suspicions of fraud and to camouflage the business with itself, facilitate the continued diversion of public funds, Isabel dos Santos and Mário Silva "created a new company", Ironsea, registered in Dubai, on February 1, 2017, a company this who assumed the contractual position at Wise in May 2017.

The accusation states that Ironsea was created to "legitimize and channel undue payments from Sonangol with the sole objective of misappropriating public money", but not without some obstacles, as the general director of Sonangol Limited, Maria Júlia, refused to sign the service provision contract "for legal reasons and suspicion of fraud".

After dismissing the director, through an order with retroactive effect, Isabel dos Santos appointed a relative of hers to the position, in the meantime deciding to change the name of Ironsea to Matter, a company through which she would subcontract several consultants, including PwC, also accused in the case.

Ironsea/Matter was supported by two other companies owned by Isabel dos Santos, Fidequity Fine and Santoro, which also received almost 2 million euros for supposed services, according to the indictment.

Ironsea/Matter invoiced more than 130 million dollars in 2017, even after the administration led by Isabel dos Santos was dismissed on November 15 of that year, with invoices with altered dates being issued.

Before her departure, Isabel dos Santos and her partners also ordered large bank transfers in favor of Mater, payments carried out in an "extraordinarily quick manner and without respecting procedures".

Paula Oliveira, faced with the imminent closure of the Ironsea / Matter accounts, will have also transferred around 30 million dollars to Eurobic accounts held by two of her companies.

The Public Ministry states that despite not being part of the administration, both Mário Silva and Paula Oliveira and some of the consultants regularly took part in the CA meetings.


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