Money-laundering Twitter barney: ‘Africa’s richest woman’ appeals from parts unknown

Money-laundering Twitter barney: ‘Africa’s richest woman’ appeals from parts unknown

Living in ‘parts unknown’ – and wanted for questioning in Angola over the alleged embezzlement of over €2 billion of State funds – Isabel dos Santos appears not to be opting for ‘a quiet life’.

Upset that judges in Sintra have thrown out her case for defamation against former Euro MP Ana Gomes (click here), Ms dos Santos is reported to be appealing to the next court up the line in Lisbon.

Her focus remains the six tweets in which Ms Gomes accused Ms dos Santos of ‘money-laundering like crazy’ (a loose translation of the Portuguese ‘lava que se farta’).

Ms dos Santos has already hotly refuted allegations that she has been doing just that (click here) – despite the fact that bank accounts in Angola and now Portugal have been ‘frozen’ against the background of ‘Luanda Leaks’.

Angola’s former first daughter appears determined to prove that Ana Gomes tweets exceeded the boundaries of ‘freedom of expression’, and constituted an unjustified attack on her (Ms dos Santos’) ‘good name and reputation’.

Público stresses nonetheless that Sintra judges did consider all these arguments, concluding that Ana Gomes’ comments were rooted “in her conviction in diverse material that she had collected, namely investigative articles by journalists and her own professional knowledge”.

Judge Susana Paula Rodrigues Achemann said at the trial that Ms Gomes was not actually required to prove what she had tweeted completely. The “plausible rationale” for her ‘facts’ with the objective of “pressuring supervisory authorities” to look into the origins of Ms dos Santos’ fortune fell, in Judge Achemann’s professional opinion, within the scope of freedom of expression.

Thus a new panel of judges will at some point be tasked with deciding whether Ms dos Santos ‘good name, honour and reputation’ truly have been damaged by Ms Gomes tweets.

Meantime, the “wave of investigations related to money-laundering by high-profile figures from Angola with bank accounts in Portugal has reduced the appetite of some Portuguese banks for links with Angola”, concede market analysts at Fitch (global ratings agency).

MPs have unanimously backed a call by left-wingers to hear the Governor of the Bank of Portugal in parliament to ensure there is no risk of ‘money-laundering’ as Ms dos Santos’ shares in EuroBic are sold (potentially to Galician bank Abanca), while one of Ms dos Santos’ companies based in Portugal, Creatambitions – dedicated to wholesale import and export – has filed for access to PER (the regime that protects companies in situations of economic difficulties).

Explains ECO online, Creatambitions is one of 22 companies in Portugal connected to Ms dos Santos’ business empire. It recently lost one of its directors who resigned at the beginning of December, weeks before Angola froze Ms dos Santos’ bank accounts.

Breaking today (Thursday) is the fact that Creatambitions isn’t the only national company starting to suffer as a result of Luanda Leaks.

Isabel dos Santos has released a statement in which she says: “In Portugal, Justice understands that seizing and freezing bank accounts impedes businesses from paying their workers”.

As a result there is now “serious risk” for stakeholders in her empire.

And that of course is before it’s clear whether or not the 13 banks exposed to Ms dos Santos will be left with embarrassing ‘holes’ in their accounting (click here).

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