Angola exposé: The money chase

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Angola: on the trail of stolen billions

By Patrick Smith, Zoe Eisenstein

Posted on May 14, 2020 14:17

isabel dos santos

Second of a five-part series on Angola’s campaign to find its stolen funds, we explore one of the leading characters of this story: Isabel dos Santos.

Angolan Twitter went wild – mostly cheering – when the Lourenço government froze the assets and accounts of Isabel Dos Santos in the country last December.

READ MORE: Angola: Isabel dos Santos indicted for embezzlement and more

The courts claimed she and her art dealer husband Sindika Dokolo had caused over a billion dollars of losses to the Angolan state.

“The Princess”

Despite a fortune reckoned at around $2.2bn – many say a gross underestimate – she cultivates a homespun image.

An associate recalls their first meeting when Isabel was sitting by a swimming pool in flip flops and a bathing suit. Yet “the Princess” symbolises the failures of her father’s four-decade rule.

Portugal Angola © Isabel dos Santos, left, with Fernando Teles, former CEO of Angolan bank BIC, Americo Amorim, and former CEO of Corticeira Amorim, during the opening of an art exhibition featuring works from the collection of her husband and art collector Sindika Dokolo in Porto, Portugal on March 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

Her constant social media posts, taking on Lourenço, senior Angolans and Portuguese anger many. She dismissed advice from public relations advisors, friends and even her husband to rein it in.