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.
Things are so bad for Republicans the GOP had to send money to Texas
In 2016, then-anti-Trump Republican Sen. Linsey Graham proclaimed, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it." It seems his prediction is coming closer to fruition.
Financial reporting reveals that the Republican Party was forced to send $1.3 million to ruby-red Texas as the election nears.
It was something spotted by ProPublica developer and ex-reporter Derek Willis Sunday.
"That's never happened before," he tweeted.
He noted that the Texas GOP raised $3.3 million in August, but nearly half of that came from their national parents.
What the London ‘Blitz’ reveals about how much pain and tragedy people can handle in 2020
It's hard to imagine how 2020 could possibly get worse. "If we lose Betty White," a friend said on a drive to the Supreme Court to lay flowers.
So many Americans have lost friends or family members to COVID-19. Thousands of Americans survived the virus only to desperately needed organ transplants and forever will struggle to breathe the way they once did. Others are still suffering without smell or taste even three months after having the virus. Millions of Americans are out of work. Debt is stacking up for those trying to survive in the COVID economy. A lack of health insurance can mean hospitalizations from the virus are putting people into bankruptcy.
Stop trying to convince people you’re right — it will never persuade anyone: expert
MSNBC host Joshua Johnson noted that this year has been full of strife, with Americans having a lot to stand up about. Whether the slaying of unarmed Black men and police brutality, or healthcare, and the coronavirus, Americans are lining up to protest.
Johnson asked if people try to start tough conversations, how do they keep it productive, and when it's time to give up. In her book, We Need to Talk, Celest Headlee explains tools that people can use to have productive conversations about tough issues that help move the needle.
"Keep in mind that a protest isn't a conversation, right?" she first began. "That's a different kind of communication. The first thing is that our goal in conversations is not always a productive one. In other words, oftentimes, we go into these conversations hoping to change somebody's mind or convince them that they are wrong. You're just never going to accomplish that. There's no evidence. We haven't been able to -- through years and years of research we haven't been able to find evidence that over a conversation somebody said, 'You're right, I was completely wrong.' You've convinced me. So, we have to stop trying to do that. We have to find a new purpose for those conversations."