A Netherlands court has ordered businesswoman Isabel dos Santos to hand over to Angola shares worth $500 million in the Portuguese oil company Galp Energia.
The recent ruling found dos Santos guilty of exploiting the country’s oil wealth and making excessive gains at the detriment of the impoverished Southern African country.
In a statement, the Netherlands International Arbitration Tribunal stated that the stake’s acquisition “tainted by illegality, enabling Ms. Isabel dos Santos … to reap an extraordinary financial gain to the detriment of Sonangol and, consequently, of the State of Angola.”
However, dos Santos, Africa’s one-time wealthiest woman, has denied any connection to the holding at the center of the case. That company, Exem, was owned by her late husband Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector and businessman who died last year.
The businesswoman is the daughter of Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the oil-rich Southern African country for 38 years until 2017.
His administration was widely criticized for corruption and nepotism. Through his influence, Isabel assumed the reins of Sonangol, the state-owned oil company, between 2016 to 2017.
While her father ruled the country, Sonangol sold a 40-percent stake in Esperaza, an offshore holding company, to Dokolo’s oil company, Exem.
However, Sonangol retained a 60-percent stake in Esperaza. The Angolan state-run company eventually partnered with Portugal’s Amorim family to form another holding company, Amorim Energia.
Amorim Energia holds a 33-percent controlling stake in the Portugal-based Galp Energia.