Supervisor to complete inspection of Isabel dos Santos bank ‘in March’

  • Lusa
  • 4 March 2020

The Bank of Portugal is assessing Isabel dos Santos' suspicious operations in EuroBic. The report will be ready this month, assured governor Carlos Costa.

The governor of the Bank of Portugal, Carlos Costa, said on Wednesday in parliament that the ongoing inspection of EuroBic, a Lisbon-based bank in which controversial Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos is a major shareholder, will be completed in March.

The inspection by the Bank of Portugal, which is the supervisor for the banking sector, “will be concluded later this month of March,” Costa told a hearing of parliament’s budget and finance committee in Lisbon.

According to the governor, “the Bank of Portugal deals diligently and systematically with all complaints reported to it,” but he acknowledged that “it will not necessarily share … the steps that have been taken.”

Following the inspection now underway, Costa said, the bank will assess “the behaviour of the operations and what was the follow-up given in terms of communication to the authorities” on the part of EuroBic, regarding the transfers revealed by the ‘Luanda Leaks’ revelations.

The main controversy centres on orders to transfer funds from an account in the name of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company, at EuroBic to an offshore company in Dubai that is allegedly controlled by Isabel dos Santos. More than $100 million dollars (€90 million) is said to have been transferred in the space of about 24 hours following her dismissal as the company’s president.

The bank’s inspection into the case “has to do with the way the order was transmitted and whether it was duly scrutinised, and with the internal procedures that took place following that scrutiny,” Costa went on to say.

The governor added that “only” at the very end of this assessment “will the consequences be drawn” by the bank.

The suitability of EuroBic’s shareholders “can and should be reassessed in light of the ongoing investigation into the operations that were known following the Luanda Leaks,” he said. “Now it remains to be seen whether they were known to the management of EuroBic.”

“It is appropriate to check whether the mechanisms to monitor these operations were informed of this operation and whether they ignored them,” he concluded.

Despite the ongoing inspection, Costa assured deputies that the institution he leads acted “as soon as the seizure of the accounts” of dos Santos by Angolan authorities in the wake of her declaration as a suspect in a criminal case was known, back in December, and not only in the wake of the release of the Luanda Leaks, in January.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on  January 19th released over 715,000 files under the name ‘Luanda Leaks’ that purport to detail financial schemes set up by dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, to allow money to be taken from the Angolan public treasury using tax havens.

Dos Santos is being investigated by the office of public prosecutions in Angola but has denied any wrongdoing and claims to be the victim of political persecution.

According to the ICIJ, which includes Portuguese newspaper Expresso and TV broadcaster SIC, dos Santos is alleged to have set up a hidden scheme that allowed her to divert $100 million to a Dubai-based company whose sole shareholder was Paula Oliveira, a close associate.