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As Angola Accuses Billionaire Isabel Dos Santos Of Fraud, Her Empire Begins To Unravel

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Isabel dos Santos amassed an empire worth more than $2 billion as the daughter of Angola’s former long-time president. Now it looks like that empire is beginning to crumble.

On Wednesday—as the Attorney General of Angola held a press conference to provisionally charge Isabel dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering, according to the BBC—a bank in Portugal where she has been a significant shareholder issued a statement saying that Dos Santos’ stake is being sold.

EuroBic, a small privately held bank in Lisbon in which Dos Santos has owned a 42.5% stake, issued a statement on Monday that it was severing its business relationship with Dos Santos and the entities related to her. On Wednesday EuroBic announced that Dos Santos had decided to sell her stake in the bank, which has about $8 billion in assets. Forbes recently valued Dos Santos’ 42.5% stake at around $200 million.

Dos Santos has come under intense scrutiny this past week after a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and The Guardian, published articles based on the “Luanda Leaks”—a cache of some 700,000 documents related to Dos Santos’ allegedly corrupt business dealings that were released to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Dos Santos was appointed to head Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol, in 2016, when her father was still president of the country. (He retired in 2017 after ruling Angola for 38 years.)

According to an article in The Guardian, while Dos Santos was heading up Sonangol, she allegedly arranged for a transfer of $57 million on one day in November 2017 from Sonangol’s bank account to a Dubai company, Matter Business Solutions, run by Paula Oliveira, a woman who The Guardian says is apparently a close friend of Dos Santos’.

It turns out that the Sonangol bank account from which the funds were transferred was a EuroBic account. In its statement severing ties with Dos Santos, EuroBic also said that the payments ordered by Sonangol to Matter Business Solutions “respected the legal and regulatory procedures formally applicable . . . between this bank and Sonangol, namely those related to the prevention of money laundering.”

The BBC is reporting that an employee of EuroBic who managed the Sonangol account, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, 45, was found dead in Lisbon on Wednesday. A police source told the BBC that “everything points to suicide.”  

Dos Santos issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The allegations which have been made against me over the last few days are extremely misleading and untrue,” and adding that “I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up,” and that “I have always operated within the law and all my transactions have been approved by lawyers, bankers, auditors and regulators.”

Forbes first dug into the murky origins of Isabel dos Santos’ fortune, with help from Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, in an in-depth investigation in 2013. In late December 2019, an Angolan court issued a freeze of Dos Santos’ assets in Angola—assets that Forbes estimates are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Most of Dos Santos’ fortune—which Forbes estimates at $2.1 billion—lies in assets held outside of Angola, primarily in Portugal.

The natural question: Will other Portuguese companies in which Dos Santos is a shareholder follow in EuroBic’s footsteps?

Kerry A. Dolan, Forbes Staff

Isabel dos Santos features in the 2020 Africa Billionaire’s list in the February issue of FORBES AFRICA. The news of the provisional charges against her for embezzlement and money laundering was unavailable at the time of going to press.  

Health

[IN NUMBERS] Coronavirus Update: COVID-19 In Africa

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While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.

The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed 11 million with the current figure being at 11,015,514.

The increase in new reported cases around the world has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.

The death toll has risen globally to a whopping 524,747.

The U.S. leads with 131,485 deaths. Brazil is second with 61,990. The U.K is third with 43,995. Italy is fourth with 34,818, and France is fifth with 29,875.

China, where the virus originated from, maintains that the country’s death toll is at 4,634.

The figure of the global recoveries stands at 6,171,905.

The African continent has 436,253 cases of Covid-19, while the death toll stands at 10,693. The continent has made 210,489 recoveries.

Here are the numbers in Africa:

Country Confirmed Cases Confirmed DeathsConfirmed Recoveries
Algeria14,65792810,342
Angola140661
Benin2707228
Botswana60124
Burkina Faso89453804
Burundi85145
Cameroon12,59231310,100
Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)7506301
Central African Republic (CAR)2,2227369
Chad85073720
Comoros1762114
Congo72824221
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)9,702684,381
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)7,1891762,317
Djibouti4,704554,550
Egypt71,2993,12019,288
Equatorial Guinea1,30612200
Eritrea9639
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)4904249
Ethiopia5,8461032,430
Gabon5,513422,508
Gambia28124
Ghana18,13411713,550
Guinea5,404334,346
Guinea-Bissau1,46015153
Kenya6,6731492,089
Lesotho42
Liberia45832219
Libya4541063
Madagascar1,29010384
Malawi547669
Mali1,8091041,088
Mauritania4,4721291,677
Mauritius33710325
Mayotte2,298191,790
Morocco13,2152309,158
Mozambique5833151
Namibia3217
Niger98066885
Nigeria27,11061610,801
Reunion4951460
Rwanda5822332
Sao Tome and Principe66112177
Senegal7,0541214,599
Seychelles1111
Sierra Leone1,16951680
Somalia2,61888577
South Africa168,0612,84481,999
South Sudan1,6932749
Sudan9,5736024,606
Tanzania50921183
Togo53113299
Tunisia1,09649998
Uganda705299
Western Sahara918
Zambia1,358111,122
Zimbabwe383454

Note: The numbers will be updated as new information is available.

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Health

How To Return To The Office

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TOPLINE Many employers should adopt a “hybrid” model of office work, with some employees in the office and others working remotely. Clearly communicate phased reopening plans with employees, especially new office protocols, such as testing and wearing masks.

public-health-experts
  • Consider a staggered return. “Offices may consider starting slow by opening with fewer people at first,” says Dr. Mark Kortepeter, an epidemiology professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and author of Inside the Hot Zone. He also suggests shifting work schedules and “having liberal stay at home policies if people are ill.”
  • Antibody testing can be a helpful tool but not a panacea, Kortepeter says. The accuracy of the tests can vary, especially because there is a lag time between being infected with the virus and developing antibodies. We also don’t fully understand whether having antibodies translates to protection from infection and for how long. 
  • Build areas of protection. The virus mostly spreads via large respiratory droplets, so using plexiglass or other types of barriers can block some of the direct spread of these droplets.
  • Minimize face-to-face contact by instituting virtual meetings. For in-person meetings, make sure there is enough room to socially distance. 
  • Establish employee protocols around personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
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  • Adopt a “hybrid” approach to reopening. “Some jobs are better performed remotely and some are better performed in the office,” says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Employers are going through that process literally by job category.”
  • There are varied ways to reopen, says Taylor. The society’s most recent survey of employers found 39 percent were planning to implement a phased reopening strategy, with critical teams returning first, while 19 percent plan to implement an alternating schedule strategy, with most employees returning on alternating days or weeks. 
  • Establish a policy around personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, because lax or conflicting guidelines will cause confusion. “We are now watching very closely what happens when you get people back into the workplace, particularly where businesses don’t mandate the wearing of a mask,” says Taylor. “You have a new area of dispute that’s going to need to be resolved by employers.”
AFGw

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced sweeping changes to its remote work policies, such as allowing employees to request the option of permanently working from home and “aggressively” increasing the hiring of remote employees to diversify its workforce. “For the last 10 or 11 weeks, we’ve had 95 percent or more of our population working remotely and what we’ve found is that we’re still able to get a lot of work done,” says Lori Goler, Facebook’s Vice President of People. The new emphasis on remote hiring will allow Facebook to expand its talent pool geographically. “It really creates a lot of opportunity across the United States. So now you don’t have to live in one of the locations [where we have offices] which means that people don’t have to get up and leave their communities,” Goler says. 

When the social media giant starts to reopen offices as permitted by state and local officials, they expect to operate at no more than 25 percent capacity in the near-term while proper safety measures are put in place.  “We decided that we would take a more conservative approach, both in terms of leaving the offices and in terms of returning to the offices,” Goler says. 

red-flags

Be alert for working conditions (or fellow employees) that are not complying with safety guidelines. Offices are full of high-touch surfaces—door handles, light switches, appliances—so check what the new cleaning and disinfection protocols are in your office. Stay away from crowded conference rooms or other commons areas where people are unable to socially distance. 

QWD

While working remotely is a big change for many people, it also allows for much greater geographic diversity in hiring and access to a whole new pipeline of talented recruits. Plus, many companies will likely take a hybrid approach of having some people work remotely and others in a physical office. “Every company will have to do what’s right for their company and situation but what we found is that it’s actually worked out really well for us,” says Goler of Facebook. “And we’re pretty excited and optimistic about the future.” 

Maneet Ahuja, Forbes Staff, Entrepreneurs

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Current Affairs

Ethiopia’s First Female President On Plans To Combat Covid-19 And Resuscitate The Economy

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Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, spoke to FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil, on the country’s plans to combat Covid-19 and resuscitate one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

Zewde, listed as one of Africa’s ‘50 Most Powerful Women’ in the March issue of FORBES AFRICA, says while the virus didn’t warrant the nation going into complete lockdown, it has hit some sectors of the East African country’s economy, affecting its GDP growth.

In early May, the government announced a package to bolster healthcare spending, food distribution, rebuild SMMEs, etc to support the country’s most vulnerable. Zewde also shares her views on women in the front lines, as well as reimagining education.

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