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Energy

Isabel dos Santos will appeal against an arbitration decision favorable to Sonangol

Exem, which holds an indirect stake in Galp through Esperaza Holdings with Sonangol, considered that the Dutch arbitration court's decision in favor of the state oil company was based on the political narrative and announced that it would appeal.

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"The arbitration now announced was private and commercial and Exem does not agree with the decision deliberated by the panel of three arbitrators who decided that only the allegations presented by Sonangol were sufficient, not having commented on the evidence and documents presented by the defense lawyers of Exem", refers a statement from Isabel dos Santos' company, to which Lusa had access.

Exem emphasizes that in this arbitration decision the political narrative "clearly superimposed on the legal analysis", for which reason it will file a legal appeal with the competent court, which it does not specify.

On Monday, the state oil company announced that it had been declared the sole owner of the investment made in Galp, according to the final ruling by the Dutch court that arbitrated the dispute between the oil company and Exem Energy, and should be reinstated as a sole shareholder (100 percent ) of Esperaza Holding BV.

This joint venture, in which Sonangol holds 60 percent of the shares and Exem the remaining 40 percent, controls 45 percent of Amorim Energia, which, in turn, is a key shareholder in Galp.

The litigation concerned Exem's 40 percent stake in Esperaza, the vehicle through which the oil company "made, in 2006, a large and successful investment" in Galp and which had been "allegedly provided by Sonangol". the statement reads.

The proceeding at the Netherlands Arbitration Institute was initiated by the Exem in 2019, due to the divergence as to the fact that the payment of the remaining amount arising from the contract for the acquisition of shares of Esperaza Holdings BV to Sonangol, carried out in December 2006, is made in kwanzas .

Payment was made by Exem in October 2017, in kwanzas, within the contractually agreed period, but Sonangol returned the amounts four months later, claiming that the payment could only be made in euros.

Sonangol argued that Exem acquired the stake in Esperaza on "extremely advantageous terms" by paying 11.3 million euros upfront and the remaining 63.8 million euros through loans financed by the Angolan oil company.

Exem stated that it had agreed the investment and participation in Galp with Américo Amorim in 2005 and that it paid its shares in Esperaza, in the approximate amount of 75 million euros, in two installments: 11.5 million euros paid upon signing the contract and 64 million euros plus interest paid in October 2017, in kwanzas, at the exchange rate of the day, "owing nothing to Sonangol for the entry in the capital of Esperaza and Galp".

According to Exem, payment in kwanzas was made following an agreement entered into between the two shareholders of Esperaza (Exem and Sonangol), to bring the debt payment forward to October 2017, as the remaining debt only matured in December 2017 .

"The arbitrators chose not to hear the question raised by Exem, but to analyze the validity of the contract signed almost 15 years ago that validated the payment of the remaining amount paid by Exem for its participation in Esperaza Holdings BV", contests Exem in statement released today.

Exem Energy, a company controlled by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, had as a shareholder her husband, Congolese Sindika Dokolo, who died in October last year.

In the statement, Exem also stresses that "during all these years, Sonangol has never questioned the validity of the contract for the sale of participation and shares to Exem and has always stated in its (audited) reports and accounts that it only held 60% of Esperaza. Holdings BV, having received the dividends it was entitled to under the same investment".

In other words, Sonangol only called into question the contract for the sale of participation by Esperaza to Exem, after it proceeded with the action against the Angolan oil company, says Exem

Isabel dos Santos was president of the oil company for about 18 months until she was dismissed by José Eduardo dos Santos' successor, João Lourenço, and the payment of Exem's debt in kwanzas was rejected by the new president of Sonangol.

Carlos Saturnino "returned the amounts, indicating that he did not accept kwanzas, and stating that he intended to receive the amount in euros, a statement contrary to the practice of payments received by Sonangol at the time, from other entities", claims the Exem.

Angolan judicial authorities understood that Esperaza was 100% financed by Sonangol, totaling more than 193 million euros, having lent to Exem Energy 75,075,880 euros, amounts not returned to date.

According to Sonangol, the 40% of Esperaza's disputed shares have a current market value of around 700 million US dollars (593 million euros).

The businesswoman saw her bank accounts and shareholdings in several companies being arrested in December 2018, by order of the Provincial Court of Luanda.

The measure, according to a statement from the Attorney General of the Republic of Angola released at the time, came as a result of an action brought by the National Asset Recovery Service.

An investigation by an international consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ), called Luanda Leaks, revealed, through access to more than 715,000 files, the alleged financial schemes of Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo, which allowed millions of dollars to be withdrawn from the treasury. Angolan public through tax havens.

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