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'False allegations': Africa's richest woman clashes with Angolan authorities

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 13, 2020 - Duration: 01:49s

'False allegations': Africa's richest woman clashes with Angolan authorities

Angolan billionaire and former first daughter Isabel Dos Santos has decried a New Year's Eve court order to freeze her vast assets as a "witch hunt" engineered to weaken her father's influence and distract from economic failures.

Serena Chaudhry reports.

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'False allegations': Africa's richest woman clashes with Angolan authorities

Angola's courts have not pursued the overseas assets of Isabel dos Santos, a prosecution spokesman has said in a move that could deescalate a row between authorities and the billionaire daughter of former president Jose Eduardo - after her domestic assets were seized at the end of last year.

But, the spokesman added, the courts won't hesitate to take such action if necessary.

Angola alleges Dos Santos and her husband steered payments of more than $1 billion from state oil company Sonangol and official diamond trading group Sodiam to companies where they held stakes.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ANGOLAN BUSINESSWOMAN AND AFRICA'S RICHEST WOMAN, ISABEL DOS SANTOS, SAYING: "All the allegations are false." But Africa's richest woman, according to Forbes, says it is a "witch hunt" aimed at weakening her father's influence and distracting from failures under new President Joao Lourenco.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ANGOLAN BUSINESSWOMAN AND AFRICA'S RICHEST WOMAN, ISABEL DOS SANTOS, SAYING: "There is a drive in Angola, within the political party, within the MPLA, to neutralize President Dos Santos' influence in Angolan political life.

And that really comes through conducting a campaign very much challenging his legacy.

Recently, his image was removed from the Angolan currency, from the banknotes.

So this is a very, very strong signal that is being put out there that his legacy should be altered." After Lourenco succeeded Eduardo in 2017, following nearly four decades of rule, he cracked down on the role of his predecessor's children in state enterprises.

Dos Santos, who holds significant stakes in several major Portuguese firms, was fired as chair of Sonangol and her brother from a sovereign wealth fund.

But she remains a highly divisive figure in Angola with supporters seeing her as a top entrepreneur; detractors as an embodiment of corruption.

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