In an exclusive interview with Deutsche Welle, Angolan president João Lourenço firmly denied any rumors of negotiations between Angola and Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos, who used her family connections and secret offshore accounts to amass a vast business empire benefiting her and her husband at the expense of the Angolan people, and embezzled tens of millions from state-owned oil and diamond companies.
This is the first time Lourenço has spoken publicly on the ongoing scandal since coming to power in 2017. He put his campaign promise to eradicate corruption into immediate effect upon inauguration by sacking Isabel dos Santos from her post as head of the Sonangol state oil enterprise. With the publication of the Luanda Leaks by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, dos Santos’s Angolan assets were frozen on the orders of a regional court. Dos Santos denies any wrongdoing and accuses the current Angolan government of engaging in a partisan “witch-hunt”.
Clemency will not be extended to Isabel nor her accomplices, Lourenço explains, as she failed to take up the government’s offer for those involved in corrupt practices to return all assets that were moved out of the country during a six-month grace period. He remained careful not to issue any personal comments on the ongoing case, saying the courts will decide the next course of action.
Asked if he will pursue charges against the former president, who ruled Angola for close to forty years and turned it into one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Lourenço pointed out that Angolan law currently grants former presidents immunity for five years after their term ends.