Isabel dos Santos: Angolan billionaire faces asset freeze of £580 million

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There was a battle before the High Court to prevent the freezing of the assets of an Angolan billionaire who has been hailed as the richest lady in Africa. However, she was unsuccessful.

The telecommunications company Unitel has filed a lawsuit against Isabel dos Santos, who is the daughter of a previous president.

It is the intention of the Angolan corporation to seek damages in the amount of $733 million (£580 million) due to the fact that Ms. Dos Santos made financial decisions while she was serving as a director of the company.

According to Ms. Dos Santos, the case is simply a political smear campaign.

Ms. Dos Santos has fiercely disputed the charges that she used her position of influence in Angola to enrich herself at the expense of the state. These allegations have been made by critics of Ms. Dos Santos for a long time.

The BBC has reported on documents that have been released, which allege that she gained her riches through unethical practices and the exploitation of resources in Angola while she was working for some of the major enterprises in the country to which she was affiliated.

Angolan billionaire faces asset freeze

At the time, Ms. Dos Santos stated that the claim was “based on fake documents and false information, it is a coordinated political attack in coordination with the ‘Angolan Government'” (Angolan Government).

For a period of 38 years, her father José Eduardo dos Santos ruled the country located in the south-western region of Africa. He stood down from his position in 2017, and he passed away the previous year.

As a result of his hand-picked successor João Lourenço, numerous of Mr. Dos Santos’ family have been prosecuted on various allegations, which they deny. He was succeeded by João Lourenço. One of his sons, Zenu, was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud.

London was Ms. Dos Santos’s primary location as of the year 2020.

In order to get a worldwide freezing order on her assets, Unitel had submitted a petition to the High Court in London.

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All across the world, there are already a number of asset freezes that have been placed on Ms. Dos Santos and the firms that are connected to her.

The lawsuit that is being brought against Ms. Dos Santos is about loans that Unitel issued to another company, Unitel International Holdings (UIH), in the amount of around $400 million in 2012 and 2013.

before accordance with the documents filed before the court, UIH is a company that is incorporated in the Netherlands and is owned and controlled by Ms. Dos Santos.

As of the beginning of the year 2020, the High Court was informed that UIH had stopped paying any interest on the loans.

According to Unitel, the loans were provided at interest rates that were lower than the commercial worth of the loans and without any significant collateral. It is alleged that Ms. Dos Santos “ultimately, for her own personal benefit” obtained the loans.

According to Ms. Dos Santos, the allegations that were made by Unitel are false, and she claims that the court action is a political campaign against her that was brought about by the current administration of Angola.

She claims that the loans that were granted to UIH were done in good faith and were approved by the board of directors and shareholders of Unitel.

She stated that the freezing decision “must be viewed in the light of political feuding in Angola,” which was a result of her efforts to “root out corruption” while she was in charge of the state oil firm of the country.

The records filed in the courtroom indicate that Unitel is “ultimately in the effective control of the Angolan State” as a result of developments that occurred in its ownership and administration beginning in the year 2020.

Mr. Justice Bright granted a freezing order in favor of Unitel in a written opinion that was handed down by the High Court on the 20th of December.

The court heard that Ms. Dos Santos’s assets might include real estate in the United Kingdom with a value of up to £33.5 million ($42 million), as well as real estate in Monaco and Dubai with a value of $95 million.

In spite of the fact that the wording of the order will be agreed upon at a later hearing, the judge cautioned Ms. Dos Santos that “this seems an obvious case for a worldwide freezing order,” which is outside the immediate authority of the High Court.

On prior occasions, Dos Santos has been referred to as the wealthiest lady in Africa, with an estimated fortune of two billion dollars. It is due to the fact that her assets are being contested in a number of different jurisdictions that she is no longer listed on Forbes’ rankings of the wealthiest persons in the world.

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