Isabel dos Santos

13 Portuguese banks ‘exposed’ in Luanda Leaks scandal

“At least 570 million euros”. This is the total amount in ‘financing’ extended by 13 Portuguese banks to African businesswoman Isabel dos Santos – currently wanted for questioning in Angola over allegations of fraud and money-laundering on a gargantuan scale.

According to Expresso – whose reporters are part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that broke the damning Luanda Leaks dossier last month (click here) – more than half the the financing will have been “concentrated in just three banks”: BCP, CGD and BPI.

How much of the 570 million euros has still to be repaid is what bank regulator – the Bank of Portugal – is now anxious to find out.

Two days after international media reported Ms dos Santos’ Portuguese accounts had been ‘frozen’, Portugal’s central bank has apparently asked all institutions exposed to ‘update their numbers’.

The regulating body under the command of Carlos Costa wants to “avoid surprises”, says Expresso – and “have the certainty that all financings are adequately covered by impairments”.

Bizarrely, reports in Portugal do not use the word ‘frozen’ for the bank accounts of Ms dos Santos and her associates – including husband Sindika Dokolo. They suggest the situation is more one of  “reinforced vigilance” in which any movement out of any of the accounts has to be previously authorised by the Public Ministry.

While Expresso goes into  details of the various credits given Ms dos Santos, Correio da Manhã claims “the firms of the daughter of Angola’s former president will have already paid (back) 306 million euros”.

If this is the case, amounts ‘owing’ to national banks will be in the region of 264 million euros.

With the updating of numbers due to go ahead as external auditors are also called in, Expresso stresses that securities markets commission CMVM is keen to discover whether “entities connected to (Ms dos Santos) complied with their roles in the field of the prevention of money-laundering”.

Meantime, the State of Angola is described as ‘advancing in court in Angola with its principal action against Ms dos Santos, her husband and Portuguese ‘right hand’ Mário Leite da Silva”.

This action is expected to be lodged on March 1.

Isabel dos Santos has consistently said the Luanda Leaks dossier is based on false documents and information.

Said the UK Guardian early last week: “Portugal is now the second country to have imposed a freeze on Dos Santos. In December, personal and corporate accounts belonging to her, her husband and a key adviser were frozen in Angola”. 

Angolan prosecutors say deals between the couple and state-owned businesses in the diamond and oil sectors “harmed the state to the tune of $1bn”. 

Angola is “demanding compensation”.

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