By John Ikani
Angolan Billionaire, Isabel dos Santos, has suffered a setback in her legal battle as the High Court rejected her plea to prevent the freezing of her assets.
Dos Santos, daughter of a former Angolan president, is entangled in a $733m lawsuit filed by telecoms giant Unitel, which alleges financial mismanagement during her tenure as a director.
Claiming a political vendetta, Dos Santos has been a target of critics who assert that her influence in Angola was exploited for personal gain, a charge she vehemently denies.
Leaked documents reported by the BBC suggested her fortune was amassed through corruption, triggering Dos Santos to label the claims as a “coordinated political attack.”
The legal dispute revolves around loans of approximately $400m extended by Unitel to Unitel International Holdings (UIH), a company owned and controlled by Dos Santos.
Unitel contends that the loans, made in 2012 and 2013, were at rates below market values and lacked substantial security, allegedly benefitting Dos Santos personally.
The freezing order, granted by the High Court, is part of Unitel’s pursuit of justice.
Dos Santos disputes the allegations, asserting that the loans had proper approval from Unitel’s board and shareholders and were executed in good faith.
She frames the legal proceedings as politically motivated, an assertion linked to her anti-corruption efforts during her leadership of the country’s state oil company, an initiative that has reportedly fueled tensions with the current Angolan government.
Unitel’s ownership changes since 2020 have positioned it under the effective control of the Angolan State, according to court documents.
The court’s written ruling, issued on December 20, approved Unitel’s freezing order.
Dos Santos, whose assets include UK property valued at £33.5m ($42m) and $95m worth of Monaco and Dubai properties, awaits the final terms of the order, with the judge highlighting the global scope of the freeze.
Formerly touted as Africa’s richest woman with an estimated fortune of $2bn, Dos Santos no longer features on Forbes’ wealth rankings due to ongoing disputes over her assets in various jurisdictions.