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Angola’s Isabel dos Santos loses fight against freezing order over assets

ANGOLAN billionaire Isabel dos Santos lost her fight against an application in London’s High Court to freeze up to 580 million pounds ($735 million) of her assets.

Dos Santos – Africa’s first female billionaire, whose father Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years until 2017 – has faced corruption accusations in the southern African country for years. She denies the allegations and says she is the target of a long-running political vendetta.

Dos Santos is being sued by Angolan telecoms operator Unitel, which asked the High Court to grant a worldwide freezing order over her assets at a hearing last month, and Judge Robert Bright granted the order on Wednesday.

The judge gave dos Santos until next month to provide Unitel with a disclosure of her assets, which include property in London, Monaco and Dubai.

Unitel is suing dos Santos over loans made to separate Dutch company Unitel International Holdings (UIH) in 2012 and 2013 when she was a Unitel director, to fund UIH’s acquisition of shares in telecom companies.

The loans were not repaid and around 300 million pounds is outstanding, according to Unitel, which successfully had dos Santos added to the lawsuit in May.

But dos Santos – who claims to be the victim of a “campaign of oppression” by Angola – says Unitel is itself responsible for UIH’s inability to repay the loans because of its alleged role in Angola’s unlawful seizure of UIH assets.

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Unitel denies any involvement in the alleged asset seizure and said at last month’s hearing that dos Santos is trying to turn the case into “another battle in a PR war against her father’s successor”, Joao Lourenco.

Unitel and UIH are not related despite bearing the same name, and dos Santos, who owns UIH, resigned as a director of Unitel in 2020.

Dos Santos also argued that her assets had been frozen or seized in other countries including Angola and Portugal, which meant another freezing order was unnecessary.

However, Bright said in a written ruling he did not accept that “the other freezing orders mean that it is not just and convenient for this court to grant a further order”.

By The African Mirror