Dos Santos' local assets still safe

16 February 2021 | Banking



The Namibian assets of corruption-tainted Angolan businesswoman Isabel Dos Santos appear to be safe for the moment, as no request has been made to freeze them.

Dos Santos's assets are believed to be worth US$1.5 billion, which she amassed during her father Eduardo Dos Santos' tenure as president of Angola. Dos Santos owns a stake in Bank BIC, which, in turn, has shareholding in the local commercial entity with the same name. Angolan authorities recently asked a Dutch court to turn over US$500 million in assets in oil company Galp. The Bank of Namibia was asked whether a similar request had been made by Angolan authorities to turn over Dos Santos's assets in Namibia. “The Bank of Namibia has not received any instructions regarding the freezing of accounts belonging to Dos Santos or entities associated with her. If such a request is to be made, it would be facilitated and processed through the appropriate institutions, appropriate governance processes and in compliance to the relevant laws,” the central bank said.

Luanda Leaks

Bank BIC managing director Lindsay Crawford last year said developments pertaining to Dos Santos's assets would not affect the bank in any way.

“Any decision that may be made on the assets of the bank's shareholders is irrelevant in terms of the bank's operation, management and relationship with its clients,” she said. Often described as Africa's richest woman, Dos Santos is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $2.2 billion (N$31 billion). Along with her associates, in 2017, she capitalised Bank BIC to the tune of N$285 million. Secret documents from the Luanda Leaks international journalism project seen by The Namibian suggest that the Bank of Namibia gave Dos Santos's bank the green light without completing due diligence on her businesses, it was reported last year. Financial regulators also allowed the bank to trade even though it was completely owned by overseas shareholders. This is in direct contravention of Namibian policy objectives aimed at capping foreign ownership in key business sectors. Namibia awarded Bank BIC a licence in 2016.