Africa's First Female Billionaire, Isabel Dos Santos Loses Bid To Prevent £580million Of Her Assets From Being Frozen


Isabel dos Santos, Africa's first female billionaire and the daughter of a former Angolan president, has lost her attempt to keep up to £580 million of her assets from being frozen.

Isabel is being sued by telecoms giant Unitel SA, which she formed under her father Jose Eduardo dos Santos' 38-year presidency, which ended in 2017.

The businesswoman has battled corruption allegations in the southwestern African country for years, but she has told London's High Court that Angola is waging a 'campaign of oppression' against her.

She disputes the allegations and claims she is the victim of a long-running political vendetta in which her assets in Angola and Portugal have been frozen or seized.

At a hearing last month, Unitel petitioned the High Court to impose a worldwide freezing order over dos Santos' assets, and Judge Robert Bright granted the order today.

According to Sky News, the judge warned dos Santos in a written finding that 'the other freezing orders mean that it is not just and convenient for this court to grant a new injunction'.

The businesswoman owns a £21 million mansion in St Mary's Place, next to Albert Hall, which is the most expensive residence in South Kensington, according to online listings.

She is accused of borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds from Unitel through another firm she owned and never repaying them.

Unitel's lawyers have urged London's High Court to freeze her UK assets, including the sale of her "very high-value real property," while they pursue the £580 million they claim they are entitled.

However, Ms dos Santos' lawyers have claimed that the allegations against her are 'trumped up' and politically motivated, and have requested that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the Angolan government is conducting a'vendetta' against her.

As part of her defense, they claimed that a freezing order against her in Angola was obtained 'on the basis of false material,' including, curiously, a fake copy of her passport bearing Bruce Lee's signature.

Isabel dos Santos is the eldest child of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.

Isabel dos Santos is the eldest daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, who controlled the country from 1979 to 2017.

She was previously considered Africa's richest woman, with a net worth of more than US$2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

She was later removed from the Forbes list in January 2021 when her assets in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands were frozen.

'Isabel dos Santos, described as Africa's first female billionaire, is a controversial figure, accused of benefitting from her late father's kleptocratic dictatorship as Angola's previous longstanding President,' he said.

'She and corporations affiliated with her have been the subject of freezing injunctions that have been violated, as well as adverse verdicts in jurisdictions around the world.

'She has been proven to have committed forgeries, is under criminal investigation, and is forbidden from entering the United States due to corruption.

'She confronts allegations of corruption and kleptocracy, as well as plundering Angolan public firms,' he continued, adding that Ms Dos Santos owes the company £580 million in outstanding debts and interest.

'There are clear legal reasons to pursue her. In its case, she caused (Unitel SA) to transfer hundreds of millions of euros and tens of millions of dollars to UIH, a company she completely owned.

'She then allowed UIH to default on the loans and told it not to provide the security provided. Those are the typical situations under which a corporation might sue a former director.'

He rejected 'that Unitel is, in effect, the Angolan state or a puppet of it, and that this case is being run as part of a state-sponsored vengeance against her.'

'This is incorrect. 'The lawsuit is being brought for commercial motives,' he explained.

However, Richard Hill KC earlier told the court that the freezing order requested by Ms Dos Santos is "oppressive and unnecessary."

He further claimed that the Angolan freezing order was acquired using 'fabricated material, including a counterfeit duplicate of her passport bearing Bruce Lee's signature.

He claimed she is the victim of a 'political attempt' to malign her and protect 'persons involved' for a 'fraud' she claims she discovered in 2016 while head of a state oil business.

'Unitel does not have a good arguable case, especially for the amount it demands,' he told the judge.

'Its loss claim is essentially faulty. There is no actual risk of dissipation, as evidenced, among other things, by the fact that this application has been pending for more than a year, and Ms Dos Santos has taken no actions to dissipate her assets.'

He told the judge that there is already 'substantial freezing relief' in place in other countries, and that it was 'difficult to understand what good purpose the claimant thinks the proposed order will serve'.

He further contended that any freezing order should not include residences and other assets owned by her through corporations.



'By and large, this is not a proper basis for a freezing order.



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