Ver Angola


Supreme Court orders new seizure of assets of Isabel dos Santos worth one billion dollars

The Supreme Court (TS) decreed a new preventive seizure of assets of Isabel dos Santos, in the amount of one billion dollars, deciding in favor of an injunction requested by the Public Ministry. At issue are evidence of crimes of embezzlement, influence peddling and money laundering.


According to the judgment, to which Lusa had access this Tuesday, the seizure order covers the seizure of all bank balances of current deposits held or co-titled, headquartered in all banking institutions, including accounts of term deposit, other financial investments that are associated or dossiers of securities in the name of Isabel dos Santos.

According to the document, dated December 19, the decision also determines the attachment of several stakes in the businesswoman: 100 percent of the shares in the company Embalvidro – Indústria, 100 percent of the companies Unitel T+ (in Cape Verde) and Unitel STP ( in São Tomé and Príncipe) and 100 percent of the shareholdings in the companies Unitel International Holding BV and Unitel International BV, with the businesswoman being the beneficial owner.

The ruling also decrees the seizure of 70 percent of the shares in the company UPSTAR Comunicação, in which the "defendant is the beneficial owner", as well as 70 percent of the shares in the Mozambican MSTAR S.A.

The preventive seizure of said assets, notes the order signed by Judge Daniel Modesto Geraldes, comes under Angolan law and Article 31 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The TS argues that the measure arises because there are "strong indications" that the businesswoman has obtained "illicit advantages" for the formation of the aforementioned companies with funds from the Angolan State.

The Supreme Court lists, in the long order, 69 reasons to justify its decision to determine the global value of the arrest estimated at 1,000,000,000.00 dollars.

Documents from the state oil company Sonangol and Unitel, rogatory letters from the Netherlands and Portugal and the processing of data resulting from the financial analysis carried out by the National Asset Recovery Service (SENRA) of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) are the "elements of the process that indicate the facts" imputed to the businesswoman.

"In the present case, there are indications of the crime of embezzlement, influence peddling, economic participation in business and money laundering, foreseen and punishable under the terms of Angolan laws", reads the dispatch.

The determination recalls that until recently Unitel SA, a company nationalized by the Angolan State last November, was held by four shareholders each with 25 percent of the share capital and that Mercury-Mstelcom S.A is a subsidiary of Sonangol.

It points out that Vidatel Lda, incorporated on 12/14/1999, headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, has Isabel dos Santos and Geni SA as effective beneficiaries, whose effective beneficiary is General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento "Dino".

In December 2019, the shares of Unitel SA, held by Vidatel, were seized by the Angolan justice and in January 2020, Sonangol acquired shares of Unitel SA that belonged to PT Ventures SPGS, a company under Portuguese law owned until January 2020 by Africatel Holdings.

The shares of Vidatel and Geni were seized, highlights the order of the Supreme Court, noting that the investment for the creation of Unitel SA belonged exclusively to Sonangol and it became a partner through its subsidiary Mercury.

"Concluding that given the initial investment belonged to Sonangol, the proceeds of the business (dividends) should also belong to the State and not delivered as they were, for years, to Geni and Vidatel", he argues.

According to the order, in view of the proximity of positions with Geni and Mercury, whose representative was the former vice-president, Manuel Vicente, as chairman of the board of directors of the Angolan operator, between 2001 and 2012, and in view of the impossibility of intervention by PT Ventures, Isabel dos Santos "held control of Unitel SA, which enabled her to direct large millions of euros from Unitel SA to entities under her sphere".

Isabel dos Santos "also had sums transferred from Unitel SA to Unitel International Holdings BV, a company based in the Netherlands, incorporated on 05/04/2012 and controlled by Isabel dos Santos herself, its only effective beneficiary".

Indeed, between May 8, 2012 and August 28, 2013, the note refers to, seven financing agreements were signed between Unitel SA and Unitel International Holdings BV, through which the first loaned the second the total amount of 322,979,711.00 euros and 43,000,000.00 dollars, amounts that the beneficiary company "undertook to refund within 10 years".

Such loans, "in which Isabel dos Santos signed the aforementioned financing agreements, simultaneously acting as the legal representative of both companies", allowed Unitel International Holdings BV to acquire shareholdings or set up companies in the telecommunications sector in Portugal, Cape Verde (Unitel T+) and Sao Tome and Principe (Unitel STP, SARL)".

Regarding the basis of the preventive arrest and requirements for the applicability of the asset guarantee measure, the Supreme Court notes that in the factual description above, "it appears that the advantages of the crime determined so far amount to one billion dollars, which correspond to the value amounts that the defendants illegally appropriated".

In addition to this amount, damage in the amount of 1,136,996,825.65 dollars was determined in other criminal proceedings, adds the order.

The Supreme Court also determines that the board of directors of the said companies be appointed as the trustee of the shareholdings of the arrested companies, with the exception of the company Embalvidro – Indústria.

As trustee of the company Embalvidro, the Institute for the Management of Assets and Participation of the State (IGAPE) is appointed, also determines the judge of the cause and adviser to the Angolan TS, Daniel Modesto Geraldes.

It should be remembered that this is the second seizure of the businesswoman's assets, with the first taking place in 2019.


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