Analysis By Rafael Marques De Morais
When Isabel dos Santos sits down to count her billions, as Africa’s richest woman, much of that fortune is in stocks and shares which she counts as her own.
Forbes estimates her wealth at US $3.3 billion. The reality, however, is that a large proportion (almost two thirds of her fortune) estimated at 1.6 billion Euros (US $1.8 billion) according to the Diário Economico’s calculations, corresponds to stocks in the Portuguese oil and gas company, Galp, which legally belong to the Angolan National Oil Company, Sonangol.
President José Eduardo dos Santos’s daughter told the Wall Street Journal last February: “I’m not financed by any state money or any public funds.” She insisted “I don’t do that.” Ever since the announcement that she had become a billionaire, Isabel has done her utmost to justify her fortune as “clean”, the result of entrepreneurial expertise which began with her selling eggs at the tender age of six.
Galp is Portugal’s largest company in the oil and gas sector with share capital worth 9.5 billion euros. Maka Angola has conduced an investigation which unmasks Isabel dos Santos and proves that – contrary to her assertions – her Galp shares were obtained via Sonangol in a business deal paid for by State money and public funds.
Isabel’s Galp interests are held indirectly, through the offshore Esperaza Holding BV which owns 45% of Amorim Energia, the largest shareholder in Galp with 38.4% of its stock. Amorim Energia’s majority owner (with 55%) is Portugal’s richest man, Américo Amorim, who was Isabel’s partner in creating the BIC bank in 2005. The two are also partners in the company Nova Cimangola, acquired from Cimpor by the Angolan State for US $75 million. It is through Esperaza Holding that Sonangol’s funds were channelled to Isabel dos Santos.