Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of Angola’s former president, is facing a potential $400 million lawsuit filed by Angolan telecoms operator Unitel in London.
The lawsuit, initiated in 2020, revolves around loans that were provided to dos Santos’ Dutch company, Unitel International Holdings (UIH), for the purpose of acquiring shares in telecoms companies. However, the loans were not repaid, leaving around $395 million plus interest outstanding, as stated by Unitel’s lawyers during a hearing at London’s High Court.
Unitel is seeking to personally include dos Santos in its case against UIH, alleging that she, as a former director of Unitel, breached her duties by failing to ensure repayment of the loans. In response, dos Santos’ legal team argued that Unitel shares responsibility for UIH’s inability to repay, citing the alleged involvement of Unitel in the “unlawful seizure by the Angolan state of UIH’s assets.” Unitel denies these allegations.
Isabel dos Santos has faced long-standing accusations of corruption, including allegations by the Angolan government that she and her husband diverted $1 billion in state funds to companies in which they held stakes during her father’s presidency, including the state oil company Sonangol. Last year, approximately $1 billion of her assets in Angola were seized, while other assets linked to her were confiscated in Portugal. In November, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant against dos Santos.
Dos Santos, who claims to reside in Dubai, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, with her lawyers stating that the allegations against her are part of a “political conspiracy.” Her lawyer, Richard Hill, emphasized in court filings that she vehemently denies breaching any of her director’s duties. The ruling on Unitel’s application to add Isabel dos Santos to the case is expected to be determined by Judge Mark Pelling at a later date.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges facing Isabel dos Santos, who has been accused of corruption and mismanagement in Angola. The case could have significant implications for dos Santos’ financial and legal status, and could further damage her reputation.