Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, has committed fraudulent and dishonest acts in the management of Angola’s cellphone provider Unitel, according to a landmark decision made recently by a British judge.
Billionaire dos Santos, whose fortune is valued at US$3.5 billion, is a major shareholder at Unitel, which she controls through Vidatel.
Maka Angola, a respected investigative journalism website which scooped the news report, said Judge Gerard Farara found dos Santos ‘guilty’ of transferring large sums of Unitel to companies she owned and controlled without the knowledge of shareholders and with no discernible benefit to Unitel.
A vicious legal battle is currently going on between Vidatel and PT Ventures SGPS SA for lack of payment of dividends from Unitel to Unitel, the news website reported.
Isabel, through the company Vidatel, acted dishonestly or fraudulently, and with an unacceptably low standard of commercial morality, Maka Angola quoted the Virgin Islands-based judge’s ruling as saying.
It was clear from the evidence that one of the prerequisites for the payment of dividends in foreign currency is that Unitel should present audited accounts, together with an audit report, to the paying bank, Angolan National Bank, the ruling’s paragraph 67, whose Maka Angola has a copy, said.
“But Unitel has no audited accounts since 2011. The reason has to do with transactions with related parties, which caused the company’s auditors PwC not to sign the accounts for 2012.”
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court judge is also said to have upheld a February 2016 ruling ordering Vidatel’s assets worldwide to be seized.
Dos Santos was fired in Novemeber by the new head of state as the board chairperson of Sonangol, the state-owned oil company. She was controversially appointed by her father, former Angolan president, Jose dos Santos, to this position eighteen months ago.
Unitel is Angola’s largest cellphone company with 81 stores in the capital alone and over 10 million clients in the country. She also owns Candando, Angola’s first supermarket, and has stakes in the country’s banks BIC and BFA, as well as in the cement company Nova Cimangola.
Maka Angola is owned and edited by multi-award winning investigative journalist Rafael Marques, the Angolan government’s number one enemy.
Watch this space!