The assets of Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo who is renown for years of repatriation of African artefacts from Western collections have been frozen together with his wife’s fortune. Isabel dos Santos, often referred to as ‘richest African businesswoman‘, the billionaire daughter of the country’s former president, and her husband are facing trail for failing to repay to Angola an amount of $1bn in state loans claimed to be borrowed during her father’s term in office. (Image above: Bozar, Brussels).
The incumbent Angola’s president, Joao Lourenço, who took office in 2017, is attempting to recover the state loans he insists Dos Santos borrowed, abusing her proximity to power, and failed to repay during her father’s term in office.
Dos Santos personal fortune estimated by Forbes at $2.2bn, runs a vast business empire with large stakes in Angola companies across multiple sectors such as banking, telecoms and supermarkets.
Sindika Dokolo has been devoted to search and repatriation of precious artefacts which had left the continent during the colonial era to enter the European and US collections.
Dokolo is also a major collector of contemporary African art owning more than 3,000 masterpieces from different origins, and periods, including significant pieces of contemporary artists.
This contemporary art collection, which is administered by the Sindika Dokolo Foundation, is based in the Luanda, according to its website, although some artefacts may be stored abroad, including Dokolo‘s native Congo. At present there is no information about future destiny of the collection.
“Angola has frozen the assets of the billionaire Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the country’s former leader, in a move, indicating that incumbent President João Lourenço is aiming at tougher stance against the former first family.
“Since closing the chapter of José Eduardo dos Santos’ nearly 40-year grip on power in 2017, President Lourenço has been trying to neutralise the influence of his predecessor and reform sub-Saharan third-largest economy. Nowadays Lourenço is under increasing pressure while Angola economy continues delcine.
“Isabel dos Santos stated that the asset freeze was “politically motivated” and that the case against her had been held in total secrecy.
The judgment contains statements which are completely untrue,” she said in a statement. She later told Reuters new agency by phone that she had never been summoned or questioned by an Angolan court or prosecutors.
Considered to be “Africa’s wealthiest woman”, Isabel dos Santos amassed a fortune estimated at more than $2 billion through stakes in Angolan companies including banks and the telecoms firm Unitel, earning her the nickname “the Princess”.
She chaired the state oil company Sonangol before being sacked by Lourenço months after he came to power.
EU-Angola relations and cooperation, development, migration and promoting stability, growth and jobs in the African continent were among the issues addressed during Mr João Lourenço’s first official visit to the European Parliament.
The President of Angola stressed the need to address common challenges together, such as migration, calling for a closer cooperation to help African countries to develop, create jobs and business opportunities.
Angola is determined in enhancing democracy, to opening up to the world and investments, Mr Lourenço said. Africa and Europe will only have to gain if African people can stay, live and work in their continent, he told MEPs.
“The EU must strengthen its action in Angola and, more in general, in Africa,’’ said European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, following the meeting with the President of Angola. Mr Tajani reiterated the need for a comprehensive Marshall Plan for Africa to help mobilise investments.
‘…At the end of his European Parliament speech, while President Joao Lourenço, of Angola, was leaving EP plenary, I managed to greet him and to ask him this question about Rafael Marques de Morais, and the corrupt ex-Prosecutor. He smiled and shrugged…” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Portugese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes.
Angola’s President Joao Lourenco (pictured) said on Monday, January 8, that there could be no economic recovery without austerity measures, ruling out salary increases for civil servants at this point in time.
“When the economy is a little better, it’s only right that it should move the national salary, but now it would not be very advisable,” Lourenco told reporters at a media event to mark 100 days in office. Lourenco took over last year from José Eduardo dos Santos, who stood down after 38 years.
Angola’s central bank will hold an auction on January, 9 to sell foreign currency to commercial banks, its first since saying it will abandon a dollar peg, according to three people familiar with knowledge of the matter.
The kwanza will probably be allowed to depreciate at the auction as the central bank shifts to a trading band, the people said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. About $100 million of foreign currency will be offered at the auction, according to Bloomberg sources.
“As President of Angola João Lourenço officially takes office today in Angola, I look forward to co-operating with him and the new government to strengthen further our relationship and intensify our existing dialogue,” – announced EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini in her statement.
“The general elections’ process, leading to a peaceful political transition, was a clear sign of Angolan people’s commitment to democracy”, – Mogherini continued.
“The European Union stands ready to support future electoral processes, including in ensuring equal access and treatment in media and the reform of the electoral legislation in line with international principles of inclusiveness and transparency,” – EU diplomat ensures.
“The EU will continue to support all efforts to build strong, democratic, and inclusive institutions that are dedicated to ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for all Angolans, and to responding effectively to evolving regional and global challenges.”