A Dutch arbitration court has found against Isabel dos Santos in her attempts to transfer shares from Sonangol.
At the heart of the dispute was a 6% indirect stake in Portugal’s Galp, held via Esperaza Holdings. Sonangol EP allegedly transferred a 40% stake in Esperaza to Exem in 2006.
Sonangol rejected the move. The Netherlands court has approved Sonangol’s position, returning it to 100% owner of Esperaza. The Angolan company said the 40% stake in Esperaza was now worth $700 million.
The tribunal said the transaction was “contaminated by illegality”, Sonangol reported. Exem’s owners had been able to exert influence on the state-owned company and taken “extraordinary financial advantages”. This was to Sonangol’s, and the Angolan state’s, detriment.
Esperaza holds a 45% stake in Amorim Energia, which has a 33.34% stake in Galp.
Sindika Dokolo, who died in October 2020, was married to Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president. Following Dokolo’s death, Isabel dos Santos is thought to be the sole owner of Exem.
According to the “Luanda Leaks”, Sonangol sold the stake to Exem for $99 million. However, the Angolan company agreed to lend Exem cash up front, leaving it to receive just $15mn.
Documents from the Netherlands cite a report from Camilo Schutte, who carried out an investigation into the case. Schutte raised concerns about the legality of the deal and said that transactions based on illegal activities are null and void.
The tribunal agreed on July 23. It ordered Exem to bear the costs incurred by Sonangol during arbitration.