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Malta ‘popular’ destination for the Dos Santos business empire

Isabel dos Santos. Photo: Nuno Coimbra

Angolese billionaire Isabel dos Santos and her husband Sindika Dokolo have or held a stake as shareholders in 14 companies that were set up in Malta, making it a “popular” destination for the couples, according to an investigation done by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The links to Malta with Africa’s wealthiest woman and her husband were revealed in the Luanda Leaks, the investigation that leaked around 700,000 financial and business records showing how dos Santos built her business empire over two decades on “insider deals” that left oil and diamond-rich Angola “one of the poorest countries on Earth”. The documents were leaked following work by the Protect Whistleblowers in Africa platform and the ICIJ.

In fact, the number of host companies earned Malta the title of a “popular” destination for the couple.

According to the investigation, Malta had the third-highest number of companies linked to the couple’s business empire, following Angola (81 companies) and Portugal (17 companies). However, Malta had more financial companies involved when compared to Portugal (13 as opposed to 11), and is the only country of the three that is listed as a “secrecy jurisdiction”.

The 14 companies incorporated in Malta are Kento Holding Limited, Wise Intelligence Solutions Holding Limited, Wise Intelligence Solutions Limited, Victoria HoIding Limited, Victoria Limited, Alcea Holding Limited, Athol Limited, Finisantoro Holding Limited, Espaços Media Group Limited, Winterfell Industries Limited, EMG Consulting Limited, Winterfell 2 Limited, Global Land Limited, and Supply International Limited.

ICIJ compiled the list of companies by scouring the leaked data and also using company registries, databases, and corporate documents while relying on information gathered through previous investigations.

Dos Santos is the billionaire daughter of Angola’s former dictatorial president José Eduardo dos Santos. She is also Africa’s richest woman. During her father’s tenure until 2017, Isabel dos Santos was handed a number of deals in oil, diamonds, beer production, and telecom, among others. She has denied the claims. However, she is under criminal investigation for corruption in Angola and her assets have been frozen.

In January, a report by The Times of Malta revealed that the company Wise Intelligence Solutions Holding Limited was handed an €8.5 million contract for consultancy services to help to reform the Angolan state-owned energy company Sonangol, despite having never traded since being set up in 2010. Dos Santos took up the position of chairwoman at Sonangol merely seven months after WISL was given the consultancy job.

It was also reported that another two companies, Victoria Limited and Victoria Holding, were used to “pump millions” into acquiring 75% of luxury Swiss jewellery company de Grisogono.

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