Portugal probes firms co-owned by dos Santos; Angola may seek arrest warrant

Portugal probes firms co-owned by dos Santos; Angola may seek arrest warrant
# 23 January 2020 19:45 (UTC +04:00)

Portugal’s market watchdog launched inquiries into various firms where Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos holds stakes, it said on Thursday, after Angola’s chief prosecutor said she could face an international arrest warrant if she fails to cooperate in a fraud investigation, APA reports citing Reuters.

Angola has named dos Santos, the daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and reputedly Africa’s richest woman, as a suspect over alleged mismanagement and misappropriation of funds while she was chairwoman of state oil firm Sonangol in 2016-2017. She denies wrongdoing.

In Portugal, Angola’s former colonial power, dos Santos holds significant stakes in several important firms.

The head of the country’s market regulator CMVM, Gabriela Figueiredo, said it launched inquiries earlier this week into two of those companies, oil company Galp Energia and telecoms firm NOS, as well as into unspecified auditing firms.

Galp declined to comment and a NOS spokesman said the company had no comment so far.

Angola’s chief prosecutor Helder Pitta Gros was quoted by Portugal’s Lusa news agency as saying late on Wednesday, before traveling to Lisbon on Thursday, that his office sought dos Santos and other suspects “to voluntarily come to face justice”.

Failing that, his office would resort to legal instruments at its disposal, one being an international warrant.

Portuguese newspaper Expresso said several people linked to dos Santos were also named as formal suspects, including Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, director of private banking at small Portuguese lender Eurobic and manager of Sonangol’s account at the bank.

Police said on Thursday Ribeiro da Cunha was found dead at the garage of his house in Lisbon on Wednesday night, after apparently committing suicide by hanging. He had tried to commit suicide earlier this month, police said.

No one at Eurobic was immediately available for comment.

Eurobic, in which dos Santos has owned a large stake, said on Wednesday she had decided to sell the stake.