Africa’s richest woman accused of corruption and siphoning off state assets

Africa’s richest woman has been accused of corruption and exploiting her own country’s natural resources, after thousands of documents detailing her business interests were leaked to the media.

Isabel dos Santos, who resides in the UK and whose father was the president of Angola, faces allegations of exploiting family connections to secure deals on land, oil and diamonds.

According to the documents, seen by BBC Panorama and the Guardian, she and her husband were allowed to buy up valuable state assets and siphon hundreds of millions of dollars out of Angola.

Ms dos Santos, whose fortune is estimated at £2bn, says these claims are entirely false and that she is the victim of a witch-hunt led by the Angolan government.

She  also wrote on Twitter that the leaked documents were “fake” and based on “false information.”    

Ms dos Santos is already under investigation for corruption by the Angolan government, which has frozen her assets in the country.

The documents were obtained by the Platform to Protect Whistle-blowers in Africa and then passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Anti-corruption campaigners responded by claiming that Ms dos Santos has been exploiting her own country for personal gain, with normal Angolan citizens the victims of her lavish lifestyle.

“Every time she appears on the cover of some glossy magazine somewhere in the world, every time that she hosts one of her glamorous parties in the south of France, she is doing so by trampling on the aspirations of the citizens of Angola,” Andrew Feinstein, the head of Corruption Watch, told the BBC.

In an interview with the BBC following the leak, Ms dos Santos said: “I regret that Angola has chosen this path, I think that we all stand a lot to lose.

“Now, when you look at my track record and you see the work I have done and look at all the companies I have built, most certainly my companies are commercial companies.  

“If you tell me, is there anything wrong for an Angolan person to have a business venture with a state company, I think there is nothing wrong.”

She added that she was facing “prejudice” due to being the daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, who served as President of Angola from 1979 to 2017.

Ms dos Santos was educated in the UK and is married to Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector and businessman. 

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