Angola: Isabel dos Santos, ‘Dino’ and ‘Kopelipa’ sanctioned by US

By Estelle Maussion
Posted on Monday, 13 December 2021 13:12, updated on Sunday, 23 January 2022 15:49

Isabel dos Santos has been placed under US sanctions for corruption. © MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP

Three former heavyweights of the dos Santos regime, including the eldest daughter of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, have been placed under US sanctions for corruption.

In disgrace in Angola, they are now persona non grata across the Atlantic.

Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos, and two generals very close to the former Angolan strongman, Leopoldo Fragoso do Nascimento ‘Dino’ and Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias ‘Kopelipa’, have been put placed under US sanctions for corruption.

The announcement – which was made on 9 December, International Anti-Money Laundering Day – was made by the US Department of State, headed by Antony Blinken, and concerns a number of prominent individuals in Latin America, Africa and Europe.


Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, once head of the national oil company Sonangol, is banned from receiving a US visa “because she engaged in corruption by misappropriating public funds for her personal benefit,” said the US department. Dino and Kopelipa were also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department under the ‘Global Magnitsky’ sanctions programme

The same measure will apply to the two Angolan generals, their wives and children. The US Treasury pointed out Dino and Kopelipa’s “involvement in the misappropriation and diversion of billions of dollars of public funds for their personal benefit.”

The generals – who are the heads of several groups, including Cochan, Geni and Baia – are accused of embezzling with regard to infrastructure contracts and the supply of military equipment, as well as acts of corruption within the context of public procurement.

Asset freeze

The two generals, who are former confidants of President dos Santos (head of Angola from 1979 to 2017), have also been hit with a more severe measure. The OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control), one of the Treasury’s financial control agencies, has placed them on the US’ SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) list, which means that all their assets, possessions and interests on US soil have now been frozen.

The three Angolan figures targeted, who have not officially reacted, were part of former president dos Santos’ security detail. Once very powerful in Angola, they have been in a difficult position ever since João Lourenço, dos Santos’ successor, arrived into power.

Lourenço, who comes from the same party as dos Santos, the MPLA, has introduced a series of reforms and declared war on corruption. This crusade is supported by the international community and donors but has created divisions within his camp.

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