News

Dubai and money laundering are there any connections – example 1 - Isabel dos Santos

24/08/2020

In January this year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) broke a significant investigation into Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola's former president and often described as Africa's richest women.

The 'Luanda Leaks' revealed how dos Santos used a network of offshore companies to take advantage of her powerful connections and position at the head of the state oil company, Sonangol, to allegedly appropriate millions in state funds from Angola. https://www.icij.org/investigations/luanda-leaks/

In 2017, dos Santos sensed that the political environment in Angola was turning against her following her father's succession as president by Joao Louremjo. Over several months, she allegedly made Sonangol transfer at least US$115 million of public funds to an offshore company. Matter Business Solutions, in Dubai.

The company was controlled by her close friend and business partner, Paula Oliveira.

Oliveira is thought to be a proxy for Isabel and not the final beneficiary of the company; not that anyone had to check: at the time the company was incorporated, authorities in Dubai were under no obligation to record its real owner or even ask questions about the actual beneficiary.

The day after dos Santos was finally dismissed from the board of Sonangol, her "last man standing" at the company, chief financial officer Sarju Raikundalia, ordered three money transfers worth almost US$58 million to the same Dubai-registered company.

Even though Paula and Isabel had been business partners at least since 2009, which made her a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), the transaction did not seem to have raised any red flags from the state-owned Emirates NBD Bank, where Matter Business Solutions received the funds.

Source - A recent report into attempts by the United Arab Emirates to combat money laundering and terrorist financing is damning, to say the least. - https://www.transparency.org/en/news/the-united-arab-emirates-a-key-piece-in-the-global-money-laundering-puzzle