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U.S. sanctions Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos for involvement in corruption

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the sanction was imposed for significant corruption.

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Businesswoman Isabel dos Santos.

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos has been sanctioned by the United States for her involvement in corruption and the misappropriation of public funds for her personal benefit.

Dos Santos was targeted alongside other individuals in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe on Thurs., Dec. 9, International Anti-Corruption Day, as the United States scales up measures to target graft around the world, including through visa bans and financial sanctions.

The move was made in line with the U.S. commitment to elevate anti-corruption measures as a core national security priority and a key pillar of the “Summit for Democracy,” as the restriction was spurred by years of mismanagement and corruption that impoverished Angola.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the sanction was imposed “for her involvement in significant corruption by misappropriating public funds for her personal benefit.”

The sanction imposed on dos Santos falls under the Global Magnitsky Act, which is used to target foreign officials implicated in alleged corruption or human rights abuses. It includes visa restrictions and will prevent U.S. entities from dealing with the businesswoman.

Under the designation, dos Santos and her immediate family are now barred from entering the United States.

The sanction comes two weeks after her younger, brother Jose Filomeno “Zenu” dos Santos, was served a five-year prison sentence by the Supreme Court of Angola after he was found guilty with three others of fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling.

Dos Santos was once considered Africa’s richest woman, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth exceeding $2 billion.

In January 2021, she was dropped from Forbes Africa’s wealthiest list after her bank accounts and assets in Angola, Portugal and the Netherlands were seized due to corruption allegations by Joao Lourenco, the current president of Angola.

She owes $340 million in debt to the Portuguese company, PT Ventures.

In July, after finding dos Santos guilty of exploiting the country’s oil wealth, a court in the Netherlands ordered the businesswoman to hand over to Angola shares worth $500 million in the Portuguese oil company, Galp Energia.

Recently, German prosecutors imposed a $178,000-fine on KfW-Ipex-Bank for violating its anti-money laundering laws when it approved a loan transaction to Sodiba, an Angolan beer company owned by dos Santos.

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname ventures into aviation

Soname is a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja.

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname

Kunle Soname, a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja, a Lagos-based betting platform, has taken delivery of the first two aircraft purchased under his recently launched airline company, ValueJet, as part of a move to begin regional flights after all necessary processes are completed.

On May 20, the airline’s fleet, which includes recently purchased aircraft (CRJ-900s with the registration, 5N-BXS and 5N-BXT), arrived at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

ValueJet is preparing the fleet for demo flights as part of the regulatory requirements set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is a mandatory regulatory exercise toward receiving an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the NCAA.

The decision by Soname to enter the aviation industry is consistent with concerted efforts to make flight tickets more affordable for Nigerians and to create value for investors in an industry plagued by operational difficulties and a persistent rise in operating expenses.

According to available statistics, only about five percent of Nigeria’s population can presently afford a flight ticket, which ValueJet hopes to significantly increase through innovative fare pricing.

Soname emphasized Nigeria’s role as an African country in driving global trade. “Despite all of the industry’s current challenges,” he said, “Nigeria and Africa are well poised to drive economic growth with an effective aviation sector.”

“ValueJet is a visionary airline that is gradually positioning itself to efficiently facilitate growth opportunities across geographies,” he added.

According to ValueJet Managing Director Omololu Majekodunmi, the company’s recent move is the first of many in the industry. He went on to say that the firm’s recently purchased aircraft were chosen based on performance, safety, and comfort.

“ValueJet will deploy these aircraft for regional flight services once we have completed all mandatory processes and secured AOC approvals,” he said.

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Led by Egypt’s richest family, Orascom Construction sees profit drop 43.1 percent in Q1 2022

Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the multinational construction group, or 33,825,323 shares.

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Nassef Sawiris.

Despite reporting a double-digit percent increase in profit in 2021 due to improved collections and liquidity management, Orascom Construction reported a profit of $15.3 million at the end of the first six months of 2021.

Orascom Construction is Egypt’s richest family-founded multinational engineering and construction corporation.

The leading engineering and construction behemoth reported a profit of $15.3 million in the first quarter of 2022, down more than 43.1 percent from the $26.9 million in profit reported in the first quarter of 2021, according to recently published financial results.

Despite a 20-percent increase in revenue from $816.6 million to $979.9 million, the group’s earnings power was hampered by a surge in direct costs above $880 million, combined with an increase in operating expenses during the period under review.

Osama Bishai, CEO of Orascom Construction, commented on the financial performance, saying: “We indicated in the previous quarter that we expected to experience challenges associated with the changing global economic environment.”

“As always, we continue to prioritize project controls, cost optimization, supply chain, and collections. Our new awards strategy is also unchanged as we continue to focus on high-quality projects across our geographies in sectors in which we are competitive,” he said.

The group was able to keep its project backlog at $5.5 billion by awarding $617.5 million in new contracts during the first quarter of 2022.

Despite the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, the backlog is consistent with the level achieved a year ago, as it was supported by high-profile infrastructure projects in Egypt denominated in foreign currency, as well as projects in other markets in the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

As part of its commitment to shareholders, the board proposed a $27-million dividend distribution to be paid in the third quarter of 2022. This is the group’s fifth consecutive year of dividend payments.

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor, with active operations and investments in the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.

Egypt’s richest man Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the group, or 33,825,323 ordinary shares, while OS Private Trust Company owns 51.8 percent of the Egypt-based contractor for the benefit of the Sawiris family.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, wife join world leaders at 2022 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland

Motsepe is a member of the WEF Board of Trustees.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. ©Billionaires.Africa

South African billionaire mining mogul Patrice Motsepe and his wife Precious Moloi-Motsepe have been confirmed as two of the 35 South African business representatives who will attend an event at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, tomorrow, which is partially dedicated to promoting South Africa as an attractive investment destination.

The event, “Preparing for Africa’s Growing Global Role,” was developed in partnership with the South African Broadcasting Corp.

The 2022 WEF Annual Meeting, which runs from May 22 to 26, is convening at the most consequential geopolitical and geo-economic moment in the past three decades against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic, COVID-19, and the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Motsepe and his wife, a renowned medical practitioner, join South African Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor as top representatives who will offer ideas about how to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in Africa.

Other South African business leaders who will attend the WEF Annual Meeting this week include: Leila Fourie, group CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Rene Parker, CEO of RLabs; Nicola Galombik, executive director of Yellowwood; and, Bronwyn Nielsen, founder and CEO of Nielsen Media and Associates.

According to a statement issued by the South African government, the event will also provide an opportunity for the government to share an update on South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, promote the country’s economic reforms, and advance critical public-private partnerships to support its development goals.

Just last weekend, Motsepe, a member of the WEF Board of Trustees, passed Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to re-emerge as Southern Africa’s richest Black businessman.

According to Forbes, Motsepe is back on top as Southern Africa’s richest Black billionaire, with a net worth of $3.1 billion as of press time on May 21, while Masiyiwa’s net worth has dropped to $2.7 billion.

Motsepe’s net worth has increased from $2.9 billion at the start of the year to $3.1 billion at the time of writing, owing to a 6.1-percent increase in the share price of African Rainbow Minerals, the South African mining and minerals company that he founded in 1997.

In addition to other assignments at this year’s WEF Annual Meeting, the billionaire will also speak on, “Sport as a Unifying Force,” alongside Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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