Africa’s former wealthiest woman, Isabel dos Santos, suffers a legal setback of $734 million

Isabel dos Santos, suffered a legal setback as her $734 million assets were frozen after an unfavourable ruling in a case initiated by Angolan telecoms operator, Unitel.

The legal dispute originated from loans provided to the Dutch company Unitel International Holdings (UIH) in 2012 and 2013.

Dos Santos, who served as a director at Unitel during that period, facilitated these loans to support UIH’s acquisition of shares in various telecom companies.

In an effort to safeguard its interests, Unitel pursued a global freezing order to prevent dos Santos from transferring her assets beyond the company’s jurisdiction.

In a significant development on Wednesday, a London judge sided with Unitel and granted the freezing order.

Bloomberg revealed that the order encompasses dos Santos’ properties in London, Dubai, and Monaco, collectively valued at over $100 million.

Throughout the legal proceedings, Unitel argued that the loan terms were “uncommercial,” featuring disproportionately low-interest rates and were sought by dos Santos for her personal gain.

The judge’s decision emphasized dos Santos’ association with Unitel until November 2020, highlighting that the Angolan State effectively controls the company.

Notably, in 2013, Forbes first declared Isabel Dos Santos as Africa’s richest woman, attributing her significant ownership in Angolan companies to a net worth of $3 billion.

However, her financial position experienced a drastic downturn in 2020 as she tumbled from the pinnacle of wealth and was removed from the roster of the continent’s wealthiest women.

This decline coincided with her arrest and accusations by Angolan authorities, who alleged that she had engaged in embezzlement and money laundering, causing the nation losses exceeding $5 billion during her father’s 38-year rule. As a response, her assets were frozen, and Dos Santos vehemently refuted the charges.