How Folorunsho Alakija & “Africa’s Richest Woman” Fell Off The Billionaires’ List
Isabel dos Santos was named the richest woman in Africa by Forbes in 2013, with an estimated net worth of more than $2 billion. Africa’s Richest Woman
At age 40 then, she became the youngest African dollar-rated billionaire.
Isabel dos Santos is a businesswoman from Angola. She is the eldest daughter of Angolan former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the country for 38 years (1979 to 2017).
During her father’s reign, she amassed substantial holdings in Angola’s strategic industries, including banking, cement, diamonds, and telecommunications.
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Her investments in Portuguese companies accounted for more than half of her assets. Among the companies she has invested in in Portugal are several banks, a cable TV company, and an engineering firm.
Angola, a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 1975.
All of this contributed to her becoming the most influential businesswoman in her country.
She reportedly owns a home on a private island in Dubai, another in London, and a $35 million yacht.
Her empire, however, came crashing down as soon as her father stepped down as President in 2017.
Today, Isabel dos Santos, 48, is battling governments – both in her own country and elsewhere – over the source of her wealth.
Angola’s new president, Joo Lourenço, who took office in September 2017 after Dos Santos’ father retired, vowed to combat the corruption that had become synonymous with the country. According to Transparency International, the country is one of the most corrupt in the world.
Two months into his presidency, he fired Dos Santos as CEO of state oil firm Sonangol, a position she had been appointed to by her father’s government in June 2016.
The Angolan government has brought corruption charges against her. She had been charged with money laundering, mismanagement, and other economic crimes committed primarily during her tenure as CEO of the national oil company, which lasted from June 2016 to November 2017.
She had their assets in Angola frozen on December 30, 2019. This includes her ownership of local companies such as Unitel and Banco de Fomento Angola.
Courts in two other countries have also placed a freeze on her assets. In a fourth country, a lawsuit has been filed claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid debt.
On 19 January 2020, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a detailed report on how dos Santos amassed her wealth over the years.
The reports detail how Ms. Dos Santos used state resources for personal gain, including transferring funds from state-owned enterprises to offshore private companies controlled by her and her allies.
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According to the Angolan government, Dos Santos’ previous corruption crimes may have contributed to the country’s current recession.
She is currently being investigated in Portugal and has since relocated to the United Arab Emirates.
Forbes stated in January 2021 that it was impossible to calculate her wealth due to the freezing of her assets in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands. She also owes $340 million to the Portuguese company PT Ventures, according to Forbes.
This effectively removed her from the illustrious billionaires list, where she had been Africa’s Richest Woman for seven years, with Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija in second place.
Interestingly, Alakija also dropped off the list in 2020.
Folorunsho Alakija, the owner of a Nigerian oil exploration company, has seen her net worth fall below $1 billion, owing largely to the drop in global oil prices.
There are currently no female African billionaires on the Forbes list.
About Isabel dos Santos
Isabel dos Santos was born in Baku, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. She is the eldest daughter of Angola’s former President José Eduardo dos Santos and his first wife, Russian-born Tatiana Kukanova, whom he met while studying in Azerbaijan, then a Soviet republic.
She attended King’s College in London and majored in electrical engineering. Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese businessman and son of a millionaire from Kinshasa and his Danish wife, met her husband from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) there. They married in 2002 and have three kids.
Dokolo died on Thursday, October 29, 2020, at the age of 48, in Dubai, according to reports. He died in a scuba diving accident. Africa’s Richest Woman