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Africa’s richest woman Isabel Dos Santos caught in another financial scandal

Africa’s richest woman and billionaire daughter of Angola’s ex-president, Isabel Dos Santos, has been caught deep in another financial scandal.

A $400 million case has been brought by Angolan telecoms operator Unitel against a company Dos Santos controls. This was decided by the London High Court on Thursday.

Unitel International Holdings (UIH) was sued by Unitel in 2020 for loans given in 2012 and 2013, when Dos Santos was a director of Unitel, to fund UIH’s purchase of telecom business shares.

The loans were allegedly not repaid, and Unitel is still due a debt of roughly $395 million plus interest. Although the two companies share a name, they are unrelated, and dos Santos, the owner of UIH, resigned from his role as a director of Unitel in 2020.

Meanwhile, Isabel Dos Santos, the billionaire, asked to be personally included in Unitel’s action against UIH. Her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, ruled Angola for 38 years up until 2017.

Judge Mark Pelling also ruled on Thursday that Dos Santos be included in the ongoing dispute.

He asserted that Unitel has a “realistic prospect of success” in response to the allegations that dos Santos had disregarded her duties as a director of Unitel. In the court documents submitted on Tuesday by her lawyer Richard Hill, Dos Santos “vehemently denies that she has violated any of her director’s obligations.

Her lawyers believe that Unitel is partly to blame for UIH’s inability to pay due to its alleged involvement in the “illegal seizure by the Angolan state of UIH’s assets.” Unitel, however, denies any involvement in the seizure of the assets.

Dos Santos has long been accused of corruption, including by Angola, which claimed that she and her husband syphoned $1 billion in public funds to companies they owned stakes in while her father was in office. The companies include Sonangol, Angolan state-run oil firm.

Last year, authorities in Angola seized about $1 billion worth of Isabel Dos Santos’ assets, and authorities in Portugal have also seized more properties linked to her.

Dos Santos, who states that she resides in Dubai, has strongly denied all of the allegations made against her, and her lawyers have referred to them as a “political conspiracy.”

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