An award-winning investigative team published a trove of files Sunday allegedly showing how Africa’s richest woman syphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into offshore accounts.
The New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) worked with newspapers such as Munich’s Suddeutsche Zeitung to reveal the “Panama Papers” tax haven scandal in 2016.
Its latest series called “Luanda Leaks” zeros in on Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angola president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Angola‘s prosecutors last month froze the bank accounts and assets owned by the 46-year-old businesswoman and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, which she described as a groundless political vendetta.
“Based on a trove of more than 715,000 files, our investigation highlights a broken international regulatory system that allows professional services firms to serve the powerful with almost no questions asked,” the ICIJ wrote.
The group said its team of 120 reporters in 20 countries was able to trace “how an army of Western financial firms, lawyers, accountants, government officials and management companies helped (dos Santos and Dokolo) hide assets from tax authorities”.
Dos Santos took to Twitter to refute the claims, launching a salvo of around 30 tweets in Portuguese and English, and accusing journalists involved in the investigation of telling “lies”.
“My fortune is built on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance,” she wrote.
She also blasted “the racism and prejudice” of SIC-Expresso, a Portuguese TV station and newspaper, and member of the ICIJ, “that recall the colonial era when an African could never be considered equal to a European”.
Dos Santos’s lawyer dismissed the ICIJ findings as a “highly coordinated attack” orchestrated by Angola’s current rulers, in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper.
Dos Santos herself told BBC Africa the file dump was part of a “witch hunt” meant to discredit her and her father.
The former president’s daughter headed Angola’s national oil company Sonangol. Forbes magazine last year estimated her net worth at $2.2 billion.
Her father’s successor Joao Lourenco forced her out of the oil company after becoming president in 2017.
Dos Santos said on Wednesday that she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.
The ICIJ investigation said Western consulting firms such as PwC and Boston Consulting Group were “apparently ignoring red flags” while helping her stash away public assets.
“Regulators around the globe have virtually ignored the key role Western professionals play in maintaining an offshore industry that drives money laundering and drains trillions from public coffers,” the report said.
Its document trove included redacted letters allegedly showing how consultants sought out ways to open non-transparent bank accounts.
One confidential document allegedly drafted by Boston Consulting in September 2015 outlined a complex scheme for the oil company to move its money offshore.
The investigation also published a similar 99-page presentation from KPMG.
None of the companies named issued immediate statements in response to the investigation.
GOP’s Susan Collins faces tough re-election fight as support plummets following vote to acquit Trump
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, appears to be facing the toughest election of her career, with her support plummeting in a new poll.
Collins is in a virtual tie with Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, one of four Democrats running to face the GOP incumbent, according to a new Colby College poll first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Gideon leads the Democratic field in the poll by more than 50% and is the overwhelming favorite to face the Republican in November.
Sanders hits Bloomberg with ‘grotesque’ statistic: Billionaire owns more wealth than bottom 125 million Americans combined
"That's wrong. That's immoral. That should not be the case when we got half a million people sleeping out on the street."
On the Democratic presidential debate stage in Las Vegas Wednesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders cited a striking statistic to show just how "grotesque" billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg's level of wealth is, particularly in a nation struggling to combat homelessness, the student debt crisis, and other major issues.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe shreds Bloomberg for flunking ‘politics 101’ in first debate
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough buried Mike Bloomberg's first presidential debate performance, and thumped big-name Democrats who saw him as the party's political savior.
The "Morning Joe" host said the billionaire and former New York City mayor seemed terribly unprepared for the attacks against his lengthy business and political record, and Scarborough said Bloomberg failed at the most basic skills.
"I think for Democratic professionals who saw this guy as their political savior to save them from Bernie Sanders, they had to be disappointed last night because he was bad in politics 101," Scarborough said. "They'll forgive a candidate that can beat Donald Trump for just about anything, but you're right, it's called a pivot."