Isabel dos Santos quits Unitel board amid ‘climate of permanent conflict’
Angolan President João Lourenço has moved against those affiliated to José Eduardo dos Santos, his predecessor
Lisbon — Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos will leave her job in the administration of telecoms operator Unitel as tensions continue among board members, Portugal’s news agency Lusa reported on Tuesday.
“After 20 years dedicated to the creation, development and success of Unitel, I chose to leave the position of member of the company’s board of directors,” Dos Santos, who holds a 25% stake in Unitel, said in a statement cited by Lusa.
Dos Santos’s decision to leave her position at Unitel, which dominates Angola’s telecoms market, is related to a “climate of permanent conflict” among the company’s board of directors, she said in the same statement.
Dos Santos, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in a series of allegations, has suffered a fall from grace since her father, José Eduardo dos Santos, was replaced by President João Lourenço in September in 2017, after 38 years in power.
The businessperson, who is embroiled in a huge financial scandal, amassed a fortune estimated at more than $2bn through stakes in various companies, including Unitel, which has Angola’s state oil company Sonangol as the majority shareholder.
In December 2019, Angola froze the assets of Dos Santos, including stakes she held in Angolan firms such as Unitel, BFA and ZAP MIDIA. She suffered a further hit when hundreds of thousands of files dubbed the “Luanda Leaks” were released in the same month about alleged financial schemes used to build her business empire.
Since the Luanda Leaks investigations emerged, Angola has announced that she and several associates are the targets of a criminal investigation. In January, Angola named Dos Santos a formal suspect over allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds during her time as chair of Sonangol, which had already indicated it wanted to reduce her influence in Unitel.
Lourenço has since moved to push aside powerful figures associated with his predecessor and sacked Dos Santos as chair at Sonangol.
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