Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos has returned to Luanda after a two year absence to find that his party, the MPLA, is more ... divided than ever. Has he come back to seek a truce with his successor, João Lourenço?
This is the second set of accusations launched against Angolan justice just two weeks, to the day, after a first charge.
In a statement issued on Tuesday 26 May, Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos, launched a new attack against the preventive freezing of her assets decreed by Angola at the end of December 2019.
The businesswoman, weakened since the revelation in mid-January of the shadowy areas of her financial empire in the context of the “Luanda Leaks“, once again accuses the Angolan prosecutor of having relied on “falsified” documents to freeze her assets, although a similar decision was also taken in February by the Portuguese justice system.
A letter from the intelligence services
More specifically, the press release criticises the Angolan judiciary for having placed as evidence in the file an “undated and unsigned memo” but “attached to an official letter from the Angolan Intelligence Services” attesting that Isabel dos Santos, a shareholder of the telephone operator Unitel, was seeking to sell her shares in the company “to an unidentified investor from the United Arab Emirates”.
This movement “was considered as ‘evidence’ demonstrating the ‘imminent risk of dissipation of assets’, a condition required by Angolan law to order the freezing of assets,” the statement said, adding that “Isabel dos Santos’ lawyers have written to Interpol to request an investigation into these irregularities.
More than five billion dollars in damages
The Angolan Public Prosecutor’s Office did not respond immediately. After Isabel dos Santos sent an initial communiqué on 12 May alleging a fake passport and false emails, the Luanda authorities denied the accusations, stressing that the state estimates that the damages in the proceedings against her exceed five billion dollars.
READ MORE Angola: on the trail of stolen billions
The Angolan justice system is investigating alleged embezzlement and irregularities in transactions carried out by joint ventures between companies controlled by Isabel dos Santos and public entities.
In this context, this new statement seems to strengthen the arm wrestling between the eldest daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos and the justice system of her country, to which she has not returned since mid-2018. “The assets freeze should be lifted immediately and the Portuguese authorities notified,” said one of her new lawyers, Dan Morrison, a British lawyer and founder of Grosvenor Law.
A combative approach to litigation
If the offensive was not clear enough, the profile of this lawyer confirms it. Dan Morrison praises on his own website “his combative approach to litigation” and claims victories in cases as diverse as the release of a leader held hostage in Africa, the recovery of funds in the Madoff case or “the cancellation of a $3 billion asset freeze injunction”.
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