Billionaire Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos has accused the country’s legal system of being “rigged” after a Luanda court threw out an appeal to unfreeze her assets.
“I have been denied justice from the courts in Angola and Portugal,” she said in a statement on Monday.
“The Luanda Provincial Court, under Judge Henrizilda do Nascimento, refused to hear the appeal, claiming it was not made in time – this is false.”
Angolan prosecutors have rejected dos Santos’ criticisms as “unfounded.”
I have been denied justice.The Judge refused to acknowledge the obviously false evidence, including a false passport signed by Bruce Lee, used to justify the freeze order.The allegations against me are without substance and based on fake evidence and a series of fabricated emails
— Isabel Dos Santos (@isabelaangola) June 30, 2020
In December, the court froze personal and corporate bank accounts belonging to dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo and her senior business manager, Mário Leita da Silva.
Only weeks later, dos Santos’ sprawling business empire came under global scrutiny after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists-led Luanda Leaks investigation documented how she amassed a fortune during her father’s three-decades’ long presidency.
Following a request from Angola, Portugal also froze her considerable assets in that country.
She has always claimed to be the victim of a political “witch-hunt” and in the statement she reiterated her innocence after the rejection of the appeal.
“The allegations against me are without substance and based on fake evidence and a series of fabricated emails.
“The Angolan Courts have misrepresented the facts, rigged the court process and the Portuguese authorities seem ready and willing to accept these lies with no independent review whatsoever.
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“It is disappointing not to be allowed a day in court to prove my innocence and establish the truth.”
Angola’s prosecution spokesperson Alvaro Joao told AFP newswire that dos Santos’ criticism of the judicial process was unfounded.
“The fact that she is able to plead her case through recognised attorneys clearly shows that adversarial (judicial) proceedings are being properly exercised,” Joao said.
“One should not talk of denial of justice simply because the court has rejected a request that has been submitted during proceedings.”