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Dutch court rules that Isabel dos Santos illegally diverted €52 million from state oil company

Prosecutors claims intricate system of proxy companies was set up to siphon revenues

Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola's former President José Eduardo dos Santos, faces one of her toughest legal challenges after a Dutch court ruled last week that she had misappropriated over €50 million from Angola's national oil company while she was its chief executive.

On 15 June, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal found that she diverted the money from Sonangol to a special purpose Dutch company Exem Energy BV that she owned with her late husband, Sindika Dokolo.

'Many persons cooperated in this shameful state of affairs, which led […] [Isabel dos Santos] to fraudulently obtain €52.6m euros in resources', the court said in its ruling.

Since last November, Dos Santos has been subject to an Interpol 'red notice' that amounts to a 'request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action'. The Angolan authorities have issued an international warrant for her arrest over serial accusations of corruption (AC Vol 63 No 15, Dos Santos haunts Lourenço's campaign and Vol 61 No 3, The fight over the missing billions goes global).

Dos Santos, who has dismissed the charges as politically motivated, is believed to be living in Dubai. She has hired public relations firms in the United States and Britain on retainer to help her fight the charges (AC Vol 64 No 2, Dos Santos ups the PR war).

Last month, the High Court in London ruled that Dos Santos could be added to a lawsuit originally filed in 2020, by Angolan telecoms firm Unitel against Dos Santos' Dutch firm Unitel International Holdings (UIH) over almost US$400m in loans paid out in 2012 and 2013 when she was a director of Unitel.

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