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Isabel dos Santos rebuffs cash repatriation campaign



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Africa’s richest woman Isabel dos Santos has rebuffed the Angola government’s cash repatriation campaign.

Lobby group Tuesday quoted the Africa Monitor Intelligence report in which the daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos had dismissed the campaign as an illegality.

“The Africa Monitor Intelligence revealed that Generals Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino” and Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa” have agreed to repatriate their cash stashed abroad,” the watchdog added.

Gen Nascimento was, under President dos Santos, the head of Telecommunications in 1995-2010, advisor to the minister of State and head of the Intelligence Bureau in 2010-2018.

He was also known as being at the forefront of the dos Santos’ private businesses.

Gen Kopelipa was President dos Santos military house head.

The Angolan parliament a fortnight ago passed a cash repatriation law, including sanctions for those maintaining money illegally stashed abroad.

The Forbes magazine in 2017 ranked Ms Isabel dos Santos the 74th most powerful woman globally. The publication also ranked her Africa’s richest woman.

The Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women lists prominent personalities, with remarkable impact in fields such as politics, philanthropy, technology, automotive, finance and investments.

Ms Isabel dos Santos’s net worth, according to Forbes, was $3 billion.

Angolan President Joao Lourenco

Angolan President Joao Lourenco. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The 44-year-old King’s College, London, engineering graduate is reputed to have opened her first business, a restaurant called Miami Beach in Luanda, in 1997 when she was 24.

Her assets in Angola include a 25 per cent stake in Unitel, one of the southern Africa state’s two mobile phone networks, and a 25 percent stake in Banco Internacional de Credito (Banco BIC).

Ms Isabel dos Santos’s representatives deny that her holdings have any connection with her father, although according to the Forbes magazine, the dos Santos family controls a huge chunk of Angola’s economy.

In 2014, American magazine, the Foreign Policy said Gen Nascimento’s net worth was $1 billion.

In 2017, Portuguese television channel SIC said Gen Kopelipa had diverted some $300 million to Dubai. in January reported that Gen Kopelipa had bought watches worth $80,000 and $50,000 for himself and his wife respectively.

The US last month pledged to help Angola repatriate cash stashed abroad.

Foreign minister Manuel Augusto said he had contacts with the US State Department to repatriate the stolen money and support Angola with other reforms.

The Luanda government in February issued a 180-day ultimatum to all its nationals to repatriate their money from foreign accounts, a deadline that was published in the official gazette.

The National Reserve Bank Governor, Mr José de Lima Massano, confirmed that over $30 billion belonging to Angola was deposited abroad.

Half of the money, he explained, was deposited in commercial banks and financial institutions.

President João Lourenço last year advised Angolans with fortunes abroad to repatriate their money and invest at home.

He warned that the government would confiscate money from those defying the advice.

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