The rapidly changing circumstances for Isabel dos Santos, widely known as “Africa’s richest woman,” is evident by her absence at the the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Instead of hobnobbing with world leaders in Davos, she is confronted with calls for her to be investigated for criminal corruption and is hotly defending herself on Twitter.
Forum organizers said the participation of dos Santos, daughter of longtime Angolan strongman Jose Eduardo dos Santos, at the forum’s annual gathering in Davos was cancelled this month, well before an investigation alleged that she bilked her country of more than $1 billion through unscrupulous dealings.
Forum spokesman Max Hall refused to specify whether the forum or dos Santos cancelled her participation.
However, the forum says it’s maintaining its ties to one of the companies controlled by dos Santos.
The forum said dos Santos’s company, Unitel, “remains a partner.” Such partner companies can pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of associating with the forum, which this week is hosting U.S. President Donald Trump and some 3,000 leaders of business, politics and civil society.
The controversy surrounding dos Santos increased this week when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 36 media partners accused her of “two decades of unscrupulous deals.”
Dos Santos, her husband and their intermediaries put together a web of more than 400 companies in 41 countries that over the past decade were awarded consulting jobs, loans, public works contracts and licenses worth billions of dollars from the Angolan government, the investigation charged on Sunday.
The allegations were based on more than 715,000 confidential financial and business records provided by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, an advocacy group based in Paris, as well as hundreds of interviews. The cache of documents is known as Luanda Leaks, named for Angola’s capital, Luanda.
Dos Santos took to Twitter to dismiss the investigation as lies.
“The ICIJ report is based on many fake documents and false information, it is a coordinated political attack in coordination with the “Angolan Government”. 715 thousand documents read? Who believes that?#icij #lies”
Last December, a Luanda court froze dos Santos’s major assets, which include banks and a telecom company. The government says it is trying to recover $1.1 billion it says the country is owed by dos Santos, her husband and a close associate of the couple.