Isabel dos Santos, Subject of Luanda Leaks, Barred from U.S. for ‘Significant Corruption’

Share:
Isabel dos Santos — subject of the 2020 documentary 'The Luanda Leaks' and seen here in an April 11, 2021, photo — was barred from entering the U.S. on Dec. 9, 2021. (Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Isabel dos Santos — subject of the 2020 documentary 'The Luanda Leaks' and seen here in an April 11, 2021, photo — was barred from entering the U.S. on Dec. 9, 2021. (Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

December 10, 2021

Isabel dos Santos was formerly known as Africa’s richest woman.

It has been almost two years since the Luanda Leaks, a worldwide investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and nearly 40 media organizations, including FRONTLINE, examined how she acquired her wealth. This week the U.S. State Department barred dos Santos and her immediate family from entering the country for what it said was “her involvement in significant corruption by misappropriating public funds for her personal benefit.”

The action was announced by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Dec. 9, 2021, International Anti-Corruption Day, as part of a broader slate of anti-corruption initiatives. It marks “the first public U.S. response to years of accusations of wrongdoing” against dos Santos, according to ICIJ.

In January 2020, as part of a global effort with ICIJ that drew on a trove of more than 700,000 leaked documents, FRONTLINE aired The Luanda Leaks, a short documentary investigating how dos Santos built a business empire with access to state funds in Angola, one of the poorest countries on earth — and the role U.S. companies played in helping her amass her fortune.

The documentary showed how dos Santos made hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks in part to her father’s longtime control of Angola’s government. José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down in 2017 after 38 years as Angola’s president. The Luanda Leaks aired shortly after Angola’s new government, having received questions from ICIJ, froze Isabel dos Santos’ major assets in an effort to help recoup $1 billion the government said it was owed. Less than a week after the January 2020 publication of a wave of stories from ICIJ, FRONTLINE and other partner news organizations investigating dos Santos’ finances, the Angolan government announced that she would face fraud charges. Other fallout has continued.

Despite a history of favorable deals, dos Santos has denied any wrongdoing, said she made her fortune on her own merit, and described corruption charges levied against her as part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

As part of the Luanda Leaks reporting, 120 journalists in 20 countries spent months examining and verifying dos Santos’ leaked financial and business records, revealing a paper trail of how she benefited from her position, and how big-name American accounting and consulting firms helped make it possible.

Stream The Luanda Leaks in FRONTLINE’s online collection of streaming documentaries, in the PBS Video App, on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel and embedded below.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Interview: Joe Biden on School Shootings
Then-Vice President Joe Biden discussed school shootings and gun control in a previously unpublished interview with FRONTLINE from November 2014.
May 26, 2022
Exclusive: What Joe Biden Told FRONTLINE About School Shootings and Gun Control in 2014
In remarks this week, President Biden cited his history trying to pass “common sense gun laws” — a subject he talked about in a 2014 interview with FRONTLINE, back when he was vice president and was confronted with Sandy Hook.
May 25, 2022
Two Years After George Floyd’s Murder, Minneapolis’ Efforts to Transform Safety Remain Unfinished
City leaders say they see promise in new programs that rely on civilians for some services, but recent developments have raised fresh questions about whether the MPD can be reformed.
May 25, 2022
FRONTLINE’s “A Thousand Cuts” Wins Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award
The 2021 FRONTLINE documentary examining renowned journalist Maria Ressa's fight for press freedom in the Philippines has been honored with an RFK Award in the International TV category. 
May 24, 2022