LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Angola’s foreign minister says a court order freezing the assets of a former president’s billionaire daughter is part of a legal effort to recoup money owed to the Southwest African country.
Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto said Monday during a visit to Lisbon, Portugal, that there is no political motivation behind the government’s demand for more than $1 billion from Isabel dos Santos, her husband and a Portuguese business partner. Isabel dos Santos has complained that the legal action targets her because of her family links.
A court in the former Portuguese colony last week froze their personal assets and their stakes in companies in Angola’s telecoms, banking and retail distribution sectors, as well as their extensive holdings abroad.
Isabel dos Santos is a daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the oil- and diamond-rich nation for 38 years until 2017. Human rights groups have long accused the former president of stealing state money during his allegedly corrupt rule.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who replaced Dos Santos, has launched a crackdown on corruption. The government said last November it has so far recouped around $5 billion.
Isabel dos Santos, reputedly Africa's richest woman, is the most high-profile target so far of the crackdown. Her father's whereabouts are unknown.
Augusto, the foreign minister, said the government initially requested for money identified as being owed to the state to be returned. The government is now moving to a phase where it is using the law to ensure the return of funds that allegedly were taken illegally.
His comments to Portuguese news agency Lusa were published by online newspaper Observador.