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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.  

Driving Ambition

How To Successfully Negotiate Your Salary

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With unemployment at a low 3.6%, American workers have been enjoying a candidate-friendly market, and many have used it to their advantage. According to a recent survey by recruiting firm Robert Half, 54% of job seekers negotiated for a higher payout before accepting their most recent position. Of those who didn’t ask for more, nearly one fifth said it was because they felt uncomfortable doing so.

“Anyone who has the experience is in demand,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “Everybody should feel comfortable negotiating compensation today.”

Negotiating can be intimidating, but with a little preparation, job seekers can be better equipped to walk away with what they’re worth. Here are three keys to a successful salary negotiation, plus what to do if the hiring manager doesn’t budge. 

1. Do Your Research

While hiring managers often discuss pay with candidates early on in the hiring process, with 35% of respondents reporting that the subject of salary came up in their first in-person interviews, McDonald advises against negotiating before an offer has been made. If salary range does come up, use that as the starting point to research industry averages for the role at hand, using online resources like Glassdoor’s salary tools and Payscale’s salary calculator as your guide. Another form of compensation that’s worth considering is benefits. A flexible work arrangement or student loan reimbursement, for example, may not pad your paycheck, but they are perks that could boost your bank account. Whatever you do, don’t overshoot—that could be a turnoff. Flexibility and knowing your market worth is key, he says. 

2. Establish Your Must-Haves And Your Nice-To-Haves

Before you go into a salary negotiation, determine what you need and what you can do without. “If you’re interviewing for a new role, or if you’re going to your current employer for the annual salary review, know what your priorities are,” McDonald says. “Take the emotion out of it and be really in tune with what’s important to you.” Not being able to articulate what matters most can cost you a few extra thousand dollars, or even the position itself. 

3. Practice Makes Perfect

There’s no better way to calm prenegotiation nerves than to practice. McDonald recommends role-playing with trusted colleagues, mentors or recruiters so that you can get feedback from those who have been on different sides of the table. As you craft your pitch, remember to make liberal use of the words “we” and “us.” “It’s always good to try and join the parties when you’re negotiating,” McDonald says. Something as simple as “There are a few things that I’d like us to discuss” can demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re a team player. For instance:  

“I’m so thrilled that you’ve extended an offer and I’m really enthusiastic about the role! I know I’d be the right fit for the [co. name] team and based on what we’ve discussed during the interview process, my background and experience align really well with the expectations of the job. I’m hoping we can discuss the offer you presented because based on my research, the salaries in our area for [job title] are typically around [number]. I’m confident you’ll be pleased with what I’ll bring to the role and organization and I’m looking forward to contributing.” 

Next Steps

It is unlikely that your negotiation will end with you receiving an immediate “yes,” so leave by offering to continue the conversation. If the hiring manager doesn’t follow up regarding your request or just won’t budge, ask yourself if you can still afford to take the opportunity. If the answer is no, tell the company right away. “Don’t ghost the opportunity,” McDonald says. “Regardless of how it all turns out, always be professional, always be courteous, always be objective.”

Samantha Todd, Forbes Staff, Leadership Strategy

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Special Report

Braving Bullets And Death To Write The First Draft Of History

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When everyone else is running away from danger, war reporters hurl their cameras and microphones in the opposite direction to ‘get the story’. Paula Slier, the writer of this piece, is one of them.

War reporting is more a calling than a profession. Why else would an otherwise sane adult throw himself or herself in harm’s way? When everyone else is running away from danger, these men and women are hurling their cameras and microphones in the opposite direction to ‘get the story’. 

This year alone, 19 journalists have been killed in the field. It begs the question if the job is worth the risk? Especially in the age of Twitter, virtual reality and 360 cameras, can – and will – technology replace human coverage on the battlefield?

Wars today make no distinction between combatants and journalists. Long gone are the days that the reporter was perceived as a ‘neutral observer’. Today, increasingly, the media is seen as a legitimate-target in the so-called ‘information war’ that can be as important – if not more – in the fight for public perception, than the battle itself.

During the bloodiest days of the not-so-long-ago Russia-Ukraine conflict, I reported from the frontlines alongside pro-Russia fighters.

I wore a bullet-proof jacket with the word ‘PRESS’ emblazoned across it. Instead of offering me some degree of protection as one would expect, the soldiers asked me to remove the jacket as they believed the Ukrainian military would deliberately target me because I was a journalist. I was thus making it unsafe for them too.

Award-winning Italian war reporter, Fausto Biloslavo, has covered most of the conflicts of the last 35 years. He believes this shift in how journalists are viewed came about after ‘September 11’.

“Insurgents no longer considered us witnesses to be respected but cannon fodder for propaganda or ransom. Nowadays, in any war, they always think that you are a spy and not a real journalist,” he says.

It doesn’t help that wars themselves have become more difficult to cover. The rise of non-state actors like paramilitary and terror groups means that, for years, swathes of Syria and Iraq were off-limits to reporters.

The only way a journalist could reach there was by being ‘embedded’ – attached – to an army unit. No wonder then that we are seen by some groups as unobjective and pushing a particular view. It is very hard to travel with the Kurdish army, like I did in northern Iraq, and be perceived by those fighting the Kurds as neutral.

Amitabh Revi, associate editor of Strategic News International, a niche Indian online news service, has had his fair share of warzones. He believes that some wars are simply too dangerous to cover.

“It’s always a calculated risk. When I ask myself why I do it, it’s to be the eyes and ears for those who can’t be there and frankly, just to be there myself. Social media and citizen reporting are important, but for sustained, comprehensive coverage, one still needs a professional.”

Small-sized digital equipment has seen the rise of the so-called ‘accidental journalist’. These often young, unqualified reporters venture into danger zones and take risks that their more seasoned colleagues never would. The trend became so prevalent that major news organizations took the unprecedented step of announcing they would not buy footage from freelancers reporting in areas they deemed too dangerous to send their own staff reporters to.

Biloslavo has lost five close friends to conflict.

The first was Almerigo Grilz, a kind of older brother to him. He was killed on May 19, 1987, in Mozambique. filming a battle between Renamo rebels and Frelimo government troops. Grilz made the mistake to move slightly from behind the protection of a termite mound to film the rebel retreat and was likely shot in the neck by a sniper.

“Almost always a journalist dies because he has made a mistake, small or big, conscious or not, as he travels along a dangerous road, photographing a tank around a corner or trusting the local population too much,” believes Biloslavo. And all the training in the world cannot prepare one for that moment. Often it’s instinct that kicks in at the last moment, especially when one must make that critical decision to move forward, stay put, or pull back.


“No article is worth the price of life, but someone has to go and report about wars, the dark side of humanity.

– Fausto Biloslavo

“It’s to be the eyes and ears for those who can’t be there and frankly, just to be there myself.

– Amitabh Revi

But despite all the risks, Biloslavo has no intention of laying down his microphone for good.

“I’ll only stop taking risks when I can no longer bear the weight of the bullet-proof jacket, the helmet, the backpack and am unable to run halfway through the whistle of the bullets,” he says.

“No article is worth the price of life, but someone has to go and report about wars, the dark side of humanity. This means accepting the risks of being killed, injured or kidnapped.”

For Revi, he’ll only stop reporting when wars stop, which implies never.

“The most dangerous situation I was in was during a so-called ‘double tap’ attack in Afghanistan,” he reflects. “The idea (of the perpetrators) is to kill the first responders – medical, security forces and journalists who rush to an attack. Instinct kept me away from the second of the two blasts. So, in short, one needs loads of luck.”

But what happens when that luck runs out? Sometimes, war reporting can feel like a ticking bomb. I narrowly missed a suicide bombing at the entrance to my hotel in Afghanistan. For three weeks, I had met the crew at the same spot every day at 9AM. On the day of the explosion, we had an early interview and left some 15 minutes before the bomb detonated – at the entrance, exactly at 9AM.  

A mixture of faith and fate keeps me going. Faith in the importance of what I’m doing – writing the first draft of history – and fate that when my time comes, it’ll come, but not a second before.

As the US author, Horace Greeley, wrote: “Journalism may kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.”

– Paula Slier

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Entertainment

Harry And Meghan Need $3 Million-Plus To Be ‘Financially Independent.’ Here’s How They May Do It.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would like to “become financially independent,” they announced Wednesday—and that may have to happen sooner rather than later, as Prince Charles, Harry’s father, is reportedly threatening to pull the millions he gives them each year. How they plan to replace those funds remains a subject of feverish palace intrigue about which the couple remains mum.

But what is clear: By stepping away from their duties, they likely are no longer prohibited from earning income the way senior members of the royal family are, clearing the way for them to take real jobs. What will those be? And how much will they actually need to make in order to live in the style to which they’ve become accustomed?

Annual Costs: Roughly $3 Million A Year (Not Including Renovations)

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact amount that Prince Harry and Markle earn from the various royal mechanisms each year—and a spokesperson for the Sussexes did not respond to questions about on the couple’s finances—but 95% of their annual income comes from Prince Charles, Harry’s father, via the Duchy of Cornwall. A trust that consists of 131,000 acres of real estate and more than $450 million in commercial assets within the United Kingdom, the Duchy of Cornwall was established in 1337 to support the direct heir to the throne.

That estate paid a combined $6.5 million (or £5.1 million) to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton) and to Prince Harry and Markle in the fiscal year ending March 2019, according to the latest financial report. The funding for the princes and their families didn’t change much from 2018 to 2019, although both reports were prior to the birth of the Sussex couple’s son, Archie. Let’s assume the brothers split that income from the Duchy (though William and Kate, with three children, are likely taking a bit more). While the Duke and Duchess did not immediately surrender this income, reports surfaced Friday that Charles is threatening to cut them off completely.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did announce that they will “no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant,” which we know covers an additional 5% of their income, and used for their official duties. It covers official business such as international tours, travel to official events and the upkeep of their homes and offices, and comes from about 25% of the revenue from the Crown Estate (£85.9 million or $112.2 million for the 2020–2021 fiscal year), a portfolio of investments controlled by the monarchy—though not by the royal family or the government—and includes properties across the United Kingdom. (For example, the Queen herself does not own Buckingham Palace.) 

In 2018 and 2019, the couple used money from the Sovereign Grant to travel across the world, from Fiji to South Africa, on official royal business. While the royal annual reports don’t detail how much the Sussex’s travels cost in total, their trip to Fiji and Tonga cost $105,000 (£81,000), according to the latest Sovereign Grant financial report. (While it may seem that travel costs could go down as the couple steps back from royal duties, they say they plan to split time between the British Isles and North America, which will lead to new expenses.) 

Based on what we know, we estimate the total of the couple’s funds from the Duchy and Sovereign Grants to be a (very conservative) $3 million—again, not including security costs. 

And that’s not including the cost of their home and renovations: The Sovereign Grant covered last year’s $3.12 million (£2.4 million) refurbishment of the Frogmore Cottage, the four-bedroom plus nursery home in Windsor where the couple lives when they are in England. The home’s maintenance began before the couple decided to move in and was covered by the Queen, under existing commitments to maintain the upkeep of certain historical buildings, while the couple privately paid for the furniture and decor. Even though the house is property of the Queen, the couple plans to continue using it as their official residence when they are in the United Kingdom—meaning less rent to pay. 

None of this takes into account the cost of their security, which is reportedly covered by the Metropolitan Police, and which the family is expected to continue to accept.  

With all of these expenses and their easy access to funds facing a precarious future, the questions remains of how, exactly, the couple plan to earn the millions that their lifestyle demands. 

What Could Make A Royal Gig: Books, Speeches, SponCon?

They do have some money to live off of: Thanks to her seven-year stint on the television drama Suits, Forbes estimates that Markle has a net worth of about $2.2 million. Prince Harry has money of his own as well, as he and his brother received the bulk of Princess Diana’s $31.5 million estate upon her death in 1997.  

But it is likely that they will join other royals, like Harry’s cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and actually take paying gigs (the former works in finance, while the latter works at an art gallery). While no announcements have been made as to how exactly the couple plans to make money, it would seem natural that they take up work in the entertainment and media fields. 

Markle has said that she was giving up acting for good once she joined the royal family; maybe this is an opportunity for her to change her mind. At the height of her acting career, she commanded up to $85,000 per episode of SuitsForbes estimates, a number that would likely shoot up thanks to her royal title if she decided to return to the screen.

But it is more likely that the pair will take up shop on the speaking and book circuit. High-profile speakers like former president and first lady Bill and Hillary Clinton can earn up to six figures per speech to corporations and universities, while even B-list celebrities like Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi could command $32,000 per oration during the height of her fame. 

A hit book has the potential to earn the couple even more. A seven-figure advance is typical for celebrities like Amy Schumer and politicians like Elizabeth Warren, with some high-profile authors earning even more. In 2017, former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama signed a record-breaking $65 million book deal with Penguin Random House, while Hillary Clinton scored a $14 million advance for Hard Choices in 2014, and Bruce Springsteen got $10 million for 2016’s Born to Run. 

There’s also talk that the couple, which favors new media and direct lines of communication with their fans, may even start a podcast, which could be a lucrative endeavor. Last year, advertising spend on podcasts reached an estimated $680 million, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, and that number is supposed to shoot up to $1 billion by next year.

And in the unlikely chance they’re ever interested in following the footsteps of the royal family of Calabasas, the Duke and Duchess could surely earn an enormous sum doing sponsored content on their widely popular (10.4 million followers) Instagram account. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and her half-sister Kylie Jenner earn up to $500,000 per post.

Of course, the details of the couple’s future, and their future earnings, are all in flux, as Buckingham Palace’s curt statement on the matter made clear. And the wording of their own statement made sure that they can work toward financial independence on their own time. One thing is for certain: It doesn’t seem as if the Duke and Duchess will be hurting for cash anytime soon.

By  Madeline Berg, Reporter, Forbes Staff and Deniz Çam , Wealth Reporter, Forbes Staff.

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