Angola: German Police Seize Bank Records in Luanda Leaks Brewery Probe

Isabel Dos Santos (file photo).

Police searched the headquarters of a state-owned bank as part of a criminal investigation into a $55 million loan to a brewery owned by Isabel dos Santos.

Police searched the headquarters of Germany's state-owned export bank last month as part of a criminal probe sparked by the Luanda Leaks investigation, local media has reported.

Federal police seized files from KfW-Ipex-Bank, a subsidiary of Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), following allegations that bank employees misappropriated public funds when granting a $55 million loan to the brewery of Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, according to Suddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR.

Authorities are also investigating whether KfW properly vetted dos Santos' ties to the beer company, Sodiba, before granting the loan, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR reported.

In 2015, the KfW subsidiary loaned Sodiba $55 million through an Angolan bank, according to Luanda Leaks, a collaboration by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and journalists in 20 countries. The investigation revealed how dos Santos, Africa's richest woman, moved hundreds of millions of dollars in public money out of one of the world's poorest countries.

The Luanda Leaks investigation revealed that dos Santos used the loan to buy a brewery and bottle filling systems from German manufacturer Krones AG, according to reporting by media partners. Krones AG told reporters at the time of the investigation that it did not previously know dos Santos' owned Sodiba. Public records existed for years before the loan that tied the daughter of Angola's autocratic president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to the company.

In setting up the brewery, ICIJ reported, dos Santos also used tax havens and advice from PwC in an effort to avoid paying taxes in Angola.

KfW confirmed an investigation to Süddeutsche Zeitung and said it was cooperating with authorities. The import-export bank is one of the world's largest government financing agencies. Representatives from Germany's ministry of finance sit on its supervisory board.

German police did not respond to requests for comment.

Dos Santos denies wrongdoing. In December 2019, before the publication of Luanda Leaks but after dos Santos and representatives of the Government of Angola received detailed questions from ICIJ, a Luanda court froze dos Santos' assets and those of her husband, including the couple's stake in Sodiba. Dos Santos faces criminal and civil charges in Angola.

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