The ‘Luanda Leaks’ Expose Isabel dos Santos’ Ill-Gotten Gains in Angola

The ‘Luanda Leaks’ Expose Isabel dos Santos’ Ill-Gotten Gains in Angola
Isabel dos Santos at the opening of an art exhibition in Porto, Portugal, March 5, 2015 (AP photo by Paulo Duarte).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Angolan prosecutors accused Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former longtime president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, of embezzlement and money laundering this week following the leak of a cache of documents that give the lie to claims that the richest woman in Africa is a self-made billionaire. The more than 700,000 documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, known as the Luanda Leaks, detail how Isabel dos Santos relied on nepotism, unscrupulous deals and possible misappropriation of national funds to amass her fortune. They include detailed business records and other correspondence that cover a period between 1980 and 2018, which roughly coincides with her father’s long presidency.

The Luanda Leaks show how the former president awarded his daughter, her husband and their associates prized public contracts, tax breaks, telecom licenses and diamond-mining rights. They then set up a network of shell companies to hide their money. President dos Santos’ largesse culminated in appointing his daughter as head of Sonangol, the national oil company, in 2016.

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