On Jan. 9, the Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported that Isabel dos Santos – the daughter of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos once ranked by Forbes magazine as Africa’s richest woman – is a citizen of Russia.
Isabel dos Santos’s ties to Russia have been the subject of journalistic investigations for nearly a decade. But the issue heated up more recently with corruption allegations made by the Angolan government against dos Santos, her husband and another businessman. She has been living outside Angola for several years; in December, an Angolan court froze her assets.
Reuters cited a court document alleging that dos Santos and the others were responsible for more than $1 billion in losses to the state. Dos Santos and an associate were accused of attempting to transfer 10 million euros to Russia.
Portuguese news outlets including the Jornal Económico and Expresso reported this month that dos Santos did business with the Russian state oil giant Rosneft in several countries, including Mozambique, Iraq and Turkey. She also owns a 25 percent stake in Nafta, an oil and gas company in Azerbaijan.
The ability to claim Russian citizenship could prove important to dos Santos in order to protect her foreign assets from being seized by the Angolan government. Russia protects its citizens and assets from foreign or international prosecution under Article 61 of its constitution.