Africa’s first female billionaire Isabel dos Santos loses £580m High Court case

Africa’s first female billionaire has lost her High Court fight against an application to freeze up to £580m of her assets.

Businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, whose father Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years until 2017, is being sued by Unitel, a telecoms operator in the African country.

The firm asked London’s High Court to grant a worldwide freezing order over the Angolan’s assets at a hearing last month.

She had argued the order was unnecessary as her assets have been frozen or seized in other countries including Angola and Portugal.

But the order was granted by Judge Robert Bright today.

He said in a written ruling he did not accept that “the other freezing orders mean that it is not just and convenient for this court to grant a further order”.


Unitel is suing Ms dos Santos over loans made while she was a director of the company to Dutch firm Unitel International Holdings (UIH) in 2012 and 2013 to fund UIH’s acquisition of shares in telecoms companies.

Around £300m in unrepaid loans remain outstanding, according to Unitel, which successfully had Ms dos Santos added to the lawsuit in May.

She claims to be the victim of a “campaign of oppression” by Angola and says Unitel is itself responsible for UIH’s inability to repay the loans because of its alleged role in Angola’s unlawful seizure of UIH’s assets.

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