During the Cannes Film Festival, there was a party where being seen was the whole point. A Swiss Jewelry company rented out the extremely rich Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. There they were drawing celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Antonio Banderas, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The theme was love on the rocks.
Africa’s richest women Isabel dos Santos was posing for photos at the May 2017 event, which is the daughter of then Angola’s president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Her Husband, De Grisgono, controls the jeweler through a dizzying array of shell companies in Malta, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Nevertheless, the lavish party became only possible of the Angolan government. The country is rich in diamonds and oil but hobbled by corruption. In the country, there is a high infant mortality rate, grinding poverty, and widespread illiteracy. Into the Jewelry company, a state agency had sunk more than $120 million. It faces a total loss today.
Estimated to be worth over $2 billion, Mrs. Santos claims she is a confident woman. Thus, she says she never benefited from state funds. Nevertheless, in recent years a different picture has emerged under media scrutiny. Often through decrees signed by her father, she pocketed a cut of Angola’s wealth. She partnered with the state oil giant to buy into Portugal’s largest petroleum company. Also, Mrs. Santos acquired stakes in the country’s diamond exports, two of its banks and its biggest cement maker, and the dominant mobile phone company.
Swiss Jewelry Company and the People Behind It
A trove of more than 700,000 documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shared documents with The New York Times. It showed how a global network of bankers, accountants, lawyers, and consultants helped her amass that fortune and park it abroad. The world’s leading professional service firms include the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, and PwC. They facilitated her efforts to profit from her country’s wealth by lending their legitimacy.
Comprising over 400 subsidiaries and companies, the empire she and her husband have built stretches from the United States to Hong Kong. Moreover, it includes a $55 million mansion in Monte Carlo, not mentioning a $35 million yacht. The empire also includes a luxury residence in Dubai on a seahorse-shaped make-believe land.
The Swiss jewelry company was led by a team recruited from Boston Consulting. Millions of dollars in the Angolan state funds helped finance the annual parties on the French Riviera under their watch.
The Boston Consulting and McKinsey signed a deal with Sonangol, Angola’s state oil business. Nevertheless, both companies agreed to be paid unusually. Mrs. Santos paid them through her Maltese company, not the government. Then Africa’s richest women put her in charge of Sonangol. Thus, the government payments soared, routed through to another company of the offshore. Her friend owned this offshore company.
PwC acted like her accountant, tax advisor, and consultant. The company was working with at least 20 other companies controlled by her husband or herself. We can say that the United States firms helped the richest woman of Africa to exploit her Country’s wealth.