Luanda Leaks dossier brings death, dismissal and resignations to Portugal

In the second week since it started cutting a swathe through the financial world, the Luanda Leaks dossier – exposing allegedly corrupt business practices of Africa’s former first daughter Isabel dos Santos – has brought death, dismissal and resignations to Portugal.

The death was that of Ms dos Santos former personal banker at EuroBic – the bank from which she has now been forced to sell her shares.

Father-of-four Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha has been described as the man who authorised the transfer of tens of millions of dolalrs out of Angolan State oil company Sonangol after Ms dos Santos had been dismissed from her position there.

According to reports, he was acting on Ms dos Santos’ instructions, sending the money to an offshore in Dubai purportedly controlled by her.

Mid-week last week, Ribeiro da Cunha was named as one of the ‘arguidos’ (official suspects) in Angola’s investigation into this developing scandal.

Apparently summoned by EuroBic bosses the same day to surrender the passwords he used for official banking transactions, Mr Ribeiro da Cunha was found dead in his garage in Restelo, Lisbon, later that night.

Meantime, three other Portuguese have been given arguido status: Mário Leite da Silva, described as Ms dos Santos principal business manager, Paula Oliveira (a friend and business partner of Ms dos Santos) and Sarju Raikundalia (formerly financial director at Sonangol under Ms dos Santos’ mandate).

Mário Leite da Silva and Paula Oliveira have since resigned their positions in companies and entities connected to Ms dos Santos, as have other Portuguese nationals not (yet) saddled with arguido status.

Jorge Brito Pereira – described as one of Ms dos Santos’ lawyers of long-standing – has opted to retire from praticising law, and has “severed his professional ties with Isabel dos Santos and the universe of businesses connected to her”, writes Expresso.

He leaves his position at the Uría Menendez Proença da Carvalho law firm without any admission of guilt, adds the paper, saying he will now “ponder everything that has occurred in recent weeks and finalise (work) on a doctorate thesis”.

With Isabel dos Santos herself still insisting Luanda Leaks is a political witch-hunt based on material that was accessed illegally and has been quoted out of context, the focus switched on Monday to who really kick-started this labyrinthine investigation.

According to lawyers William Bourdon and Francisco Teixeira da Mota it was none other than their client, Rui Pinto who is currently in jail facing 90 crimes of ‘illegal access’ after presenting the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with Football Leaks.

Rui Pinto’s defence has always been that ‘rot’ – whether it be in the world of football, or the world of high finance – needs to be exposed.

His authorship now of Luanda Leaks puts Portuguese authorities in a new corner. How can they say he is a criminal (for exposing corruption in the world of football, much of which has been used in successful prosecutions) when Angola has welcomed his information and initiated a major criminal investigation?

Pinto maintains he should be seen as a whistleblower, and duly protected.

He has many influential voices behind him. TV commentator Miguel Sousa Tavares suggested this week that Pinto should be released from jail immediately and hailed a hero, to be decorated by the president of Portugal, while former Socialist Euro MP and anti-corruption ‘bulldog’ Ana Gomes warns the young computer genius has a lot more information on corruption still to release.

Into the maelstrom came the news that Isabel dos Santos is suing key players within the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, for disseminating Luanda Leaks in the first place.

The 30 or so members so far named include the BBC, The New York Times, and France’s Le Monde.

In Portugal, Expresso was responsible for breaking the story, but since then other media sources have leapt on it – particularly regarding national repercussions as a result of Ms dos Santos being compelled to ‘sell’ shareholdings in Portuguese companies.

Workers at power solutions giant Efacec, for example, are mobilising against what they see as the threat of ‘new dismissals’ in the wake of Ms dos Santos’ retreat.

Marques Mendes, the incisive commentator for TV station SIC, has stressed it is “inevitable” now that Ms dos Santos will be forced to renounce her position in telecommunications company NOS as well as in energy giant GALP.

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