Isabel dos Santos' assets in Namibia, safe for ‘now’

14 January 2020 | Misdaad
Freezing the assets of the former Angolan president's daughter, Isabel dos Santos, will not affect her Namibian assets, for now, the Bank of Namibia has said.

The central bank governor, Ipumbu Shiimi, told the Namibian newspaper on Tuesday, following international media reports that an Angolan court had issued an order to freeze the bank accounts of Dos Santos on 31 December 2019.

The court was acting in a graft investigation looking at alleged irregularities involving state companies, including the oil giant Sonangol, which Dos Santos used to run, and a diamond-marketing firm, Sodiam.

The central bank said Dos Santos' 42.5 percent share in Bank BIC was safe for now in Namibia.

"It should be kept in mind that Bank BIC Namibia Limited is owned by multiple shareholders and the Bank of Namibia is not aware of any development that could threaten the stability of BIC Namibia at the moment," Shiimi said.

He also said that the Angolan authorities have not yet reached out to the Bank of Namibia concerning the matter.

"The Bank of Namibia is aware of developments in Angola pertaining to an indirect shareholder in a locally licensed bank, Bank BIC Namibia Limited.

The BIC brand was born in Angola in May 2005. In 2008, BIC expanded its brand to Europe. It also operates in Cape Verde and has an office in South Africa.

Although it was established in Namibia in July 2015, its banking activities only began in May 2016.

Bank BIC Namibia received N$285 million from its shareholders in the financial year ended 31 December 2017, up from N$6,8 million received in 2015 when the bank commenced operations, financial results released by the bank show.

Bank BIC is the biggest bank in Angola with 250 branches. In Namibia, the bank has four branches - in Windhoek, at Walvis Bay, Rundu and Ongwediva.

Dos Santos had told The Financial Times that she had attempted to pay back a €75 million loan to Sonangol in kwanza, the local currency, but the payment had been deliberately blocked.

She has been widely accused of having made her wealth through her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos' patronage network. Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years.

Soon after Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco took over, he reversed his predecessor's appointment of Isabel dos Santos as head of Sonangol, the state oil company, and also sacked Jose Filomeno dos Santos, her half-brother, as head of the US$5b sovereign wealth fund.

She has since launched a counter-offensive against what she alleges is a "politically motivated witch-hunt" by Lourenco. – Nampa/ANA

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