Isabel dos Santos formally charged with defrauding Angolan government


Isabel dos Santos, Africa's richest woman,has been accused of embezzlement and money laundering by prosecutors in Angola.


The charges also include fraud and charges of mismanaging during her 18-month stint as chair of the state’s oil firm, Sonangol.


Ms dos Santos, who has called herself a visionary, an entrepreneur and a potential future president of Angola boasted about how she was self-made.


The indictment comes only days after the Luanda Leaks investigation, led by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists and at least 36 media houses, revealed over 700,000 documents on how she and her husband Sindika Dokolo siphoned public funds from Angola to tax havens abroad.


Attorney General Helder Pitta Gros held a press conference to provisionally charge dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering.


Prosecutors are looking to recover $1bn (£760m) that Ms Dos Santos and her associates allegedly owe the state.


"Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol," Mr Pitta Gros told a news conference on Wednesday evening.


EuroBic, a small privately held bank in Lisbon in which dos Santos owned a 42.5% stake in, issued a statement on Monday that it was cutting all ties with her and the entities related to her.


On Wednesday EuroBic announced that dos Santos had decided to sell her stake in the bank, which has about $8 billion in assets.


The Angolan authorities will now conduct a criminal investigation to determine whether she should be formally charged.They have also named five other people as suspects in the case, one of whom was Mr Ribeiro da Cunha.


Mr Da Cunha was found dead at one of his properties in Lisbon. A police source told Portuguese media that "everything points to suicide".


Local media quoted police as saying Mr Da Cunha had already attempted to kill himself this month and had been suffering from depression.


The investigation has also revealed that she and her husband did not work alone and several businesses, including PwC and Boston Consulting Group are in the spotlight and could face charges for helping her amass and hide her fortune, now estimated by Forbes at $2.1 billion.


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