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The impact of the Luanda Leaks in Portugal

ECO gathered all the events that took place this week in Portugal and are linked to the Luanda Leaks case. Companies like EuroBic and Nos are some of the companies affected by the scandal.

Luanda Leaks is the latest scandal in the corporate world, which took everyone by surprise, that brought Africa’s richest woman to the spotlight and, at the same time, shocked the Portuguese business sector.

The investigation by the International Investigative Journalism Consortium (ICIJ) analysed over 715,000 files related to Isabel dos Santos’ business between 1980 and 2018, helping to rebuild the path that led the daughter of the former Angolan president to become the wealthier woman of the African continent.

The investigation

During the investigation, more than 400 companies (and their subsidiaries) were identified to which Isabel dos Santos has been linked in the last three decades, including 155 Portuguese and 99 Angolan companies.

It was gathered details about a cover-up scheme set up by Isabel dos Santos at the Angolan state oil company Sonangol, which allowed her to divert over 115 million dollars to Dubai (specifically to a company called Matter Business Solutions).

They also reveal that, in less than 24 hours, Sonangol’s account in EuroBic, the bank of which Isabel dos Santos is the main shareholder, was emptied and left with a negative balance the day after the businesswoman resigned.

The data also show that four Portuguese are allegedly directly involved in Isabel dos Santos’ financial schemes. They are Paula Oliveira (non-executive director of NOS and director of an offshore company in Dubai), Mário Leite da Silva (CEO of Fidequity, a Lisbon-based company owned by Isabel dos Santos), Jorge Brito Pereira and Sarju Raikundalia (Sonangol’s chief financial officer).

The influence of Isabel dos Santos on Portuguese companies

After Angola, Portugal is the second country where the Angolan businesswoman has the largest presence: she has over two dozen shareholdings, including in the Madeira island.

It all started in 2006 when the richest woman in Africa entered the country through an indirect stake in the oil company Galp Energia – one company where she still remains and which, by the way, is also one of the most valuable in Portugal.

Isabel dos Santos controls 40% of Esperaza, in partnership with Sonangol, which holds 60%. Esperaza is a shareholder of the Amorim Energia holding company, with 45%, the remaining 55% belonging to the Amorim family. This holding company holds 33.44% of Galp’s capital. Thus, 6% of Galp is attributed to Isabel dos Santos.

These shares were bought from Sonangol by a company from Isabel dos Santos in 2006. The Angolan businesswomen will have initially paid only 15% of the total. And about 70 million dollars were “lent” by Sonangol, with a 11 years maturity.

In addition to Galp, among the best known, is Efacec. In 2015, the company Winterfell paid 200 million euros to buy 66.1% of Efacec Power Solutions from the José de Mello and Têxtil Manuel Gonçalves groups.

Zopt, owned by Isabel dos Santos through Kento and Unitel, is the majority shareholder of Nos. It should be noted that the lawyer of the Angolan businesswoman, Jorge Brito Pereira, is chairman of Nos and the “friend” involved in several offshore companies, Paula Oliveira, is a non-executive director.

In the financial sector, Isabel dos Santos had a strong presence in Portugal through BPI, which ended with the sale of the bank to the Spanish CaixaBank. EuroBic now remains one of the epicentres of transfers to offshores that are pointed out as Isabel dos Santos’ way of diverting money from Sonangol. Meanwhile, the bank has stopped doing business with its main shareholder.

The various companies include several holding companies and pass through the energy, telecom, real estate or retail sectors. Five holdings outside mainland Portugal stand out.

Five companies are owned by Angola – Niara Holding, Niara Power, Dorsay, Invesluanda and YAKO – with headquarters in Madeira.

 

EuroBic

Last Monday, EuroBic announced it cut all commercial activity with the companies of the richest woman in Africa, its main shareholder with 42.5% of the bank’s capital.

The bank also said that it would proceed with an audit of operations related to the Angolan state oil company and the offshore in Dubai, Matter Business Solutions.

On Wednesday, EuroBic said in a statement that Isabel dos Santos had decided to cease being a shareholder of the bank and that the process of selling the 42.5 percent position it holds is already underway. In addition, the bank’s administrators, Vanessa Loureiro and Rui Lopes, who had been appointed by the Angolan businesswoman, have already resigned from their respective positions.

However, there is a third name: Jorge Brito Pereira. Isabel dos Santos’ longtime lawyer also resigned as president of the EuroBic’s general assembly.

Also related to the bank, the Portuguese press reported this Thursday that Isabel dos Santos’ private manager at EuroBic, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, was found dead. Lusa agency cited a police source saying it was probably a suicide.

The manager had been charged this Wednesday, together with the Angolan businesswoman, with alleged mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her passage through the state oil company Sonangol.

Bank of Portugal

In view with the information that has been released through Luanda Leaks last Monday, the Bank of Portugal asked EuroBic for information to understand whether the bank acted under the rules to prevent money laundering with the transfers from Sonangol, made by Isabel dos Santos.

In a statement, the central bank stressed that it had asked for “information that would allow an assessment of how the said institution [EuroBic] analysed and fulfilled its obligations in terms of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.”

“Depending on the information assessment that we received, Bank of Portugal will draw the necessary consequences, in particular in prudential and misdemeanour matters,” note.

José de Mello Group

Efacec’s minority shareholder, the José de Mello Group, stated that it maintains its confidence in the firm at a time when the company’s majority shareholder, Isabel dos Santos, is being investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds.

“As minority shareholders, with a 14% shareholding and without representation in the executive committee, we closely follow Efacec’s activity and maintain confidence in the company and the management team,” a José de Mello Group source told Jornal de Negócios.

It should be noted that the group holds, together with the Têxtil Manuel Gonçalves group, around 28% of Efacec’s capital. The majority shareholder is Winterfell Industries of Isabel dos Santos.

Nos

Next Monday, the Ethics and Corporate Governance Committee will hear Jorge Brito Pereira, Paula Oliveira and Mário Leite da Silva, the three non-executive directors of Nos involved in Luanda Leaks, says the Jornal de Negócios.

According to the same publication, at the hearing, the three directors will have to explain to the Ethics and Governance Committee their involvement, with Isabel dos Santos, in the alleged transfer of Angolan public funds to Dubai.

It should be recalled that Nos have as majority shareholder the company Zopt, which controls 52.15% of Telecom’s capital. Zopt is owned by Sonae and the Angolan entrepreneur.

On Monday, Sonae issued a statement where it said it was concerned about the impact of the Luanda Leaks on the telecommunications operator.

“Sonae is following the situation with attention and concern, especially given the allusions made to several non-executive members of the board of directors of its subsidiary Nos,” highlighted the holding company led by Cláudia Azevedo.

The company also reiterated its confidence in the executive committee of the Telecom, which “will do everything in its power to ensure that the company has the necessary stability to continue to serve its various stakeholders and generate value for the Portuguese economy.”

PwC

After learning that there are auditors also involved in Luanda Leaks (such as PwC and KPMG), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partner Jaime Esteves decided to stop leading the tax department in Angola, Cape Verde and Portugal.

This move comes one day after PwC confirmed the closure of ongoing work for entities controlled by the dos Santos family following Luanda Leaks.

However, ECO learned that Jaime Esteves will remain as a partner in the firm.

Banco Fomento de Angola

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), Mário Leite Silva, Isabel dos Santos’ manager, resigned from his job, according to the LUSA agency.

The Portuguese, the right-hand man of the daughter of the former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, took up the job in January 2017, after the signature of the agreement for the purchase of 2% of BFA by Unitel.

In the letter of resignation to which ECO had access, Mário Leite Silva explains that at the end of December the Board of Directors of Unitel “formally approved the list of persons to be appointed to BFA’s Board of Directors for the triennium that is now beginning.”

Last December, the manager was also the target, as was Isabel dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, of the preventive seizure of holdings in companies and bank accounts decided by the Luanda Provincial Court.