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Seizure of dos Santos assets in Portugal welcome step, but judicial cooperation with Angola must continue

Transparency International welcomes a recent decision by Portugal’s Central Court of Criminal Investigation to order the seizure of all assets held in the country by Isabel dos Santos, businesswoman and daughter of the former President of Angola.

“The decision to freeze all of dos Santos’s assets in Portugal is an important step towards justice,” said Karina Carvalho, Executive Director of Transparency International Portugal.

Last month, a Portuguese court ordered freezing of dos Santos’s bank accounts following a request from Angolan authorities to help the country recover over US$2 billion in stolen assets. “This decision did not go far enough since it would not have stopped her from selling her shares in Portuguese companies,” added Carvalho.

The new court ruling extends to numerous properties and company shares that dos Santos reportedly holds in Portugal, and will help ensure that she does not profit from the intended sale of her stake in the Portuguese investment bank Eurobic, for example.

“It remains unanswered why Portuguese authorities failed to fully comply with the request for judicial cooperation from the Angolan authorities,” continued Carvalho. “Not only does it seem there is a lack of political will in Portugal to actively promote the return of the stolen money to the people to whom it belongs, but the country’s judiciary seems to be ill-prepared to address money laundering, particularly in regards to the recovery of stolen assets,” argued Carvalho.

In January, the Luanda Leaks investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed how dos Santos’s network of offshore companies allowed her to take advantage of her powerful connections and allegedly appropriate millions in state funds from Angola.

João Oliveira, Transparency International Portugal
T: +351 218 873 412
E: joao.oliveira@transparencia.pt