Portugal likely to freeze proceeds from Isabel dos Santos bank sale
05 Mar 2020

Portugal will likely freeze proceeds from the expected sale of Isabel dos Santos’ 42.5% stake in EuroBic, worth around $200 million, the country’s central bank governor Carlos Costa told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

“The judicial authorities will want to preserve the value associated with this deal. This may not mean, and I don’t think it will, [mean] blocking the transaction. It will mean safeguarding the proceeds of the transaction,” Costa said.

The small investment bank controlled by dos Santos and long-time business associate Fernando Teles came under intense scrutiny after Luanda Leaks, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The investigation charted two decades of self-dealing that helped dos Santos amass a fortune. In 2017, the investigation found, the oil giant Sonangol paid at least $38 million to a consulting firm in Dubai, owned by a friend and business associate.

Luanda Leaks documents show that the transfers, processed by EuroBic, occurred hours after dos Santos was fired from Sonangol by the current Angolan president. Dos Santos denies any wrongdoing.

A few weeks before the investigation launched, an Angolan court seized dos Santos assets in that country, along with those of her husband and a key business partner. After publication, Angolan and Portuguese authorities froze her bank accounts and announced investigations.

Angolan prosecutors have since accused dos Santos of “money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management” and “forgery of documents, among other economic crimes” while she held the top job at the state oil company Sonangol.

On Monday, the Angolan government formally launched a civil action against dos Santos in the Luanda Provincial Court in a bid to recover $1 billion it says she and her associates owe the cash-strapped country.

Portugal has said it would cooperate in criminal and civil proceedings initiated by the Angolan government.

By Douglas Dalby, ICIJ, 4 March 2020

Read more at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

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