AN official suspect in a case alleging multi-million dollar fraud and money-laundering, Isabel dos Santos is unlikely to profit in any way from the pending sale of Portuguese-Angolan bank Eurobic to Spanish lender Abanca.
Governor of the Bank of Portugal Carlos Costa has affirmed this in parliament, answering questions over how it was possible for Portugal to have so much ‘exposure’ to dos Santos in the first place.
But his answer didn’t totally convince MPs as he appeared to leave the responsibility of holding on to the funds with ‘judicial authorities’.
These authorities ‘will want to preserve the value associated with these shares,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t mean they will block the transactions but safeguard the proceeds of the transactions,’ he added, concluding: ‘It is not for us [the Bank of Portugal] to take a position.’
Prime minister António Costa later said he believed it was for the Bank of Portugal to take a position, and there followed less than a complimentary debate about the central bank governor who reaches the end of an extremely troubled mandate in a few months’ time.
But as to the destination of the purported $200 million that Abanca will be paying for the shares of dos Santos and her Portuguese business associate Fernando Teles, this looks very unlikely to be with either of them. dos Santos has been vilified in the media since the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released their damning Luanda Leaks dossier in January.
It has to be stressed that dos Santos continues to denounce all the stories as ‘false’ claiming they are a form of a political witch hunt.
Nonetheless, earlier this month the Angolan government formally launched a civil action against dos Santos in Luanda Provincial Court in a bid to recover $1bn it says she and her associates owe the country.
With the whereabouts of dos Santos and her husband and business partner Sindika Dokolo ‘unclear’, Bloco de Esquerda claims the fact that the sale of Eurobic is going ahead at all is a form of ‘money-laundering’, in that Abanca will find itself owning something that had been originally purchased with dirty money.
The latest blog posting from the ICIJ reports that parliament’s Left Bloc alliance leader, Catarina Martins, ‘has called on authorities to halt the sale, describing dos Santos’ assets as the “money of a kleptocracy.”’