Angola state oil firm probes $38m Dubai company payment

Isabel dos Santos said that she had made her own wealth. (Reuters)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Angola state oil firm probes $38m Dubai company payment

LUANDA: Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former president, has denied allegations of suspicious activity during her tenure as head of state oil firm Sonangol made by the current chair of the company, describing them as “slanderous.”
Dos Santos, ranked Africa’s wealthiest woman by Forbes, said in a statement issued late on Sunday that she would take all measures to protect her reputation and rejected accusations of wrongdoing made by Sonangol Chairman Carlos Saturnino last week.
Saturnino said an internal audit at Sonangol uncovered a transaction of $38 million made to a Dubai-headquartered company that was approved by dos Santos after she had been dismissed from Sonangol.
Dos Santos said the payment was “totally legitimate” and made for consultancy services, adding that under Angolan law, dismissed public officials are obliged to continue in their roles until a replacement is sworn in.
No payments were approved by the old board after the new one had been sworn in, she said.
“The attempts of Carlos Saturnino to rewrite history are the result, in my understanding, of a return to the culture of irresponsibility and dishonesty which sunk Sonangol in the first place,” dos Santos said.
Angola’s public prosecutor’s office said on Friday it had opened an investigation into the alleged events described by Saturnino at Sonangol — the most important company in a country that relies on oil for 95 percent of its exports.
President João Lourenço has promised to tackle graft since he took over from Jose Eduardo dos Santos last September, though this is the first high-profile investigation against a member of the Angolan elite. Another question raised by Saturnino concerned why a joint venture partner was allowed to repay a euro-denominated debt in Angolan kwanza, on which there exists a large arbitrage between official and street rates.
Dos Santos said the partnership dated back to well before her tenure and had been a successful business venture.


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.