Angolan Supreme Court orders confiscation of Isabel dos Santos assets worth €941 million – Africa

The Angolan Supreme Court (TS) has ordered the confiscation of one billion dollars (941 million euros) of the assets of businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, namely 100% of the shares of Embalvitro, of which the defendant is the beneficial owner.

According to the ruling accessed by Agencia Luza this Tuesday, the criminal chamber of the TS specifies that the confiscation covers all bank balances of current deposits in all banking institutions, including term deposit accounts, headquartered in or co-titled with other financial institutions. Relevant or documentary evidence of securities in the name of Isabel dos Santos.

The order of the Angolan Supreme Court, dated December 19, 2022, indicates that “the defendant is a beneficial beneficiary” of the 70% shares of the company UPSTAR Comunicação, among the assets mentioned as seized.

The 70% stake in MSTAR SA, a telecommunications company in Mozambique, belonging to businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who died in Spain last August, is to be confiscated.

According to the order signed by Judge Daniel Modesto Geraldes, the preventive seizure of the said assets refers to the Angolan law and Article 31 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The court orders the acquisition of 100% of Unitel D+ in Cape Verde and Unitel STP S.R.L. in São Tomé and Príncipe. BV, of which Isabel dos Santos is a beneficial owner.

The TS argues that the move arises because there are “strong indications” that the businessman has obtained “illegal benefits” to create the aforementioned companies with the funds of the Angolan state.

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The Angolan Supreme Court listed 69 reasons in its long journey to justify its decision to set the global value of the arrest, estimated at US$1,000,000,000.00.

“Elements of the fact-finding process,” the business woman was told, included documents from Angolan state oil company Sonangol and Unitel, the Netherlands and Portugal, and the processing of data obtained through financial analysis by the National Asset Recovery Service (CENRA) of the Angolan Attorney General’s Office (PGR).

“Current records include crimes such as fraud, influence peddling, economic participation in business and money laundering, which are prejudicial and punishable under the terms of Angolan laws,” the dispatch said.

The decision recalls that Unitel SA, which was nationalized by the Angolan state last November, was run by four shareholders with 25% share capital each, and that Mercury-Amstelcom SA was a subsidiary of Sonangol.

Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, Vidatel Lda, incorporated on 12/14/1999, has Isabel dos Santos and Genie SA as beneficial owners, with Angolan General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino” as its beneficial owner.

In December 2019, the shares of Unitel SA held by Vitatel were seized by the Angolan judiciary, in January 2020, Sonangol acquired the shares of Unitel SA owned by Africanatel Holdings under Portuguese law until January 2020. .

The shares of Vitatel and Geni were seized, highlighting the order of the Angolan Supreme Court that the investment for the creation of Unitel SA was exclusively owned by Sonangol and through its subsidiary Mercury it became a shareholder.

“If it is decided that the initial investment should belong to Sonangol, then the income (dividends) of the business should also belong to the state and should not be given to Geni and Vitatel for years,” he argued.

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According to the order, former Angolan vice-president Manuel Vicente chaired the Angolan operator’s board of directors between 2001 and 2012, given the proximity of his positions with Genie and Mercury. The intervention of PT Ventures was impossible, as Isabel dos Santos “held control of Unitel SA, which enabled the transfer of large millions of euros from Unitel SA to companies under her sphere”.

Isabel dos Santos “transferred amounts from Unitel SA to Unitel International Holdings BV, a company headquartered in the Netherlands, incorporated on 05/04/2012 and controlled by Isabel dos Santos, its sole beneficial owner”.

In fact, between May 8, 2012 and August 28, 2013, seven financing agreements were entered into between Unitel SA and Unitel International Holdings BV, whereby the first paid the second a total amount of 322,979,711.00 euros and 403,000 dollars. The beneficiary company “undertook repayment within a period of 10 years”.

“Such loans signed by Isabel dos Santos in the aforementioned financial agreements, acting simultaneously as the legal representative of the two companies”, allowed Unitel International Holdings BV to acquire or establish shares in the telecommunications industry in Portugal, Cape Verde (Unitel T+). ) and Sao Tome and Principe (Unitel STP, SARL)”.

Regarding the reasons for the preventive arrest and the applicable requirements of the asset guarantee procedure, the Angolan high official stated in the above factual statement, “The benefits of the crime determined so far appear to be one billion dollars. It corresponds to the value of the sums illegally acquired by the defendants”.

In addition to this amount, damages in the amount of US$1,136,996,825.65 were assessed in other criminal proceedings.

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The Supreme Court of Angola also decides that the board of directors of the companies mentioned should be appointed as trustees of the shareholders of the arrested companies, with the exception of Empalvitro — Industria.

The Institute for Assets and Participation of the State (IGAPE) has been appointed as the trustee of Embalvitro, and decides the judge of the case and Daniel Modesto Geraldes, counsel of the Angolan TS.

This is the second arrest of Isabel dos Santos’ assets since the PGR issued the order in 2019.

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