Ex-exec at Sonangol denies any wrongdoing at state firm

By Candido Mendes and Henrique Almeida on 3/5/2018

LUANDA and LISBON (Bloomberg) -- Isabel Dos Santos, the billionaire fired as chairwoman of Angola’s state oil company last year, denied any wrongdoing in the transfer of $38.2 million from the company.

Sonangol Chairman Carlos Saturnino said at a press conference on Feb. 28 that Dos Santos authorized the transfer from Sonangol to a company in Dubai four days after she was dismissed on Nov. 15. He also said Dos Santos paid excessive fees to consultants and that she increased business ties between Sonangol and some of the banks in which she holds stakes during her mandate.

Dos Santos said the fund-transfer was legal because it was made while she was still in her position at Sonangol, according to a statement emailed Sunday. Fees to consultants declined by about a half during her 17-month tenure at the company, she said.

“This generalized and politicized campaign against me makes me believe that the interests of people who have made billions at the expense of Sonangol are coming back,” Dos Santos said. “Sonangol’s problem is not and was never Isabel dos Santos.”

Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, is the daughter of former President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who ruled the continent’s second-biggest oil producer for almost four decades. Since taking office in September, President Joao Lourenco has vowed to end monopolies and fight corruption in a country where the former leader’s family and their allies control huge sectors of the economy.

Dos Santos described Saturnino’s comments that she favored doing business with banks in which she holds stakes during her tenure at Sonangol as a “false insinuation.”

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