Monday, April 19, 2021

Husband of Africa’s richest woman, Isabel Dos Santos dies in a diving accident

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Sindika Dokolo, the husband of Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, has died at age 48. Dokolo, a Congolese businessman, died on Thursday, October 29 in Dubai, according to a tweet from his family, which did not disclose the cause of death. Several media outlets have reported that Dokolo died in a diving accident.

“The Dokolo family, his wife, children, mother, brother and sisters have the deepest sorrow and immense sadness to announce the passing of Sindika Dokolo,” the tweet reads.  Dos Santos, 47, posted a selfie with Dokolo and one of their children on Thursday.

Both Dokolo and Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former longtime ruler Jose Eduardo dos Santos, had their assets in Angola frozen by the government in December 2019. At the time Forbes estimated those assets were worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The following month, the Attorney General of Angola charged Dos Santos and her associates with money laundering and embezzlement of $1 billion that they allegedly owe to the country, the BBC reported, for transfers that allegedly took place while Dos Santos was the head of Sonangol, the state oil company.

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In response to the charges, Dos Santos issued a statement in January, saying “The allegations which have been made against me over the last few days are extremely misleading and untrue,” and adding that “I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up,” and that “I have always operated within the law and all my transactions have been approved by lawyers, bankers, auditors and regulators.”

Dos Santos came under intense scrutiny in January after a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and The Guardian, published articles based on the “Luanda Leaks”—a cache of some 700,000 documents related to Dos Santos’ allegedly corrupt business dealings that were released to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

In May, Dos Santos called for her assets to be unfrozen, claiming that a “fake passport” was used as evidence to seize her assets.  The prosecutor responded with a statement saying the legal process was not based on any identification document. As a result, her request was not successful. The trial against her has yet to begin.

Dos Santos’ father ruled Angola for 38 years and stepped down in 2017. Forbes first dug into the murky origins of Isabel dos Santos’ fortune, with help from Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, in an in-depth investigation in 2013.  Forbes currently estimates her net worth at $1.4 billion, down from $3.7 billion in 2014.

Dokolo and Dos Santos, who reportedly met while both were students at King’s College in London, got married in 2002 and have three children. In 2012, to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, the couple hosted a three day celebration in Angola, flying in friends and relatives from as far away as Brazil and Germany, Forbes reported in 2013.

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