Africa Intelligence can reveal the existence of companies secretly set up in the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the family of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos. The group behind these, wealth management firm Helin International, is under investigation in the United States, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Nurturing relations with the leading Gulf power is an absolute necessity for all African presidents seeking financial and political support in the Arab world. To develop their lines of communications with the Wahhabi monarchy, African heads of state choose personalities of the first order.
The UAE usually ignores foreign requests for judicial cooperation regarding its offshore hubs but has bent over backwards to accommodate Angola's investigations into the family of former president José Eduardo dos Santos. By doing so, the Emirates are not only forging stronger ties with Luanda but also earning money-laundering brownie points.
Angola's justice ministry has previously asked Emirati and Mauritian authorities to help it locate the assets of the dos Santos family. Now it is taking the treasure hunt all the way to Singapore. Isabel dos Santos, for her part, is fighting back in court in London.
The Angolan president's quiet trip to Abu Dhabi last week is the latest sign of a fast-tracked rapprochement between the UAE and Angola. But this blossoming diplomatic and economic alliance depends on the UAE's willingness to hunt down the dos Santos family's assets.
President Joao Lourenço came into office hellbent on stamping out corruption from the Dos Santos era but some of his own entourage are now worried the crusade could turn against them. The goal from both sides is to drawn the US Department of Justice into the arena.