The husband of Africa’s richest woman has died in a diving accident off the coast of Dubai after getting into trouble.
Sindika Dokolo, 48, married Isabel dos Santos in 2002 after they met as students at King’s College in London. Their wedding in Angola – where 70 per cent of residents live below the breadline – cost £2.5 million.
The Congolese businessman and art collector was an experienced driver but could not be revived after getting into trouble on Thursday, The Times reported.
Cedric Mala, a friend, told the newspaper: ‘Unfortunately the last outing was fatal. The doctors tried to resuscitate him without success.’
Sindika Dokolo (right), 48, married Isabel dos Santos (left) in 2002 after they met as students at King’s College in London. Their wedding in Angola – where 70 per cent of residents live below the breadline – cost £2.5 million
Nicole Scherzinger, Mr Dokolo and Mrs dos Santos attend the de Grisogono party during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Villa des Oliviers on May 15, 2018
Mrs dos Santos posted a photograph with her husband and one of their three children on the day of his death. It was captioned: ‘My love…’
Art was Mr Dokolo’s passion, according to his family. He was the son of the founder of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Bank of Kinshasa.
Mr Dokolo collected more than 5,000 works from contemporary African artists and wanted to help restore African art and artefacts back to museums on the continent.
Earlier this year Mrs dos Santos was accused of siphoning off millions of dollars of public money from deals involving diamonds, oil and telecoms during her father Jose’s 38-year rule as president of Angola.
Mrs dos Santos, who has 223,000 Instagram followers and socialises with celebrities like Rita Ora and Nicole Scherzinger, claimed that prosecutors used dodgy emails and a bogus passport made by an internet scammer to prove her wrongdoing.
The Congolese businessman and art collector (pictured with his wife) was an experienced driver but could not be revived after getting into trouble on Thursday, The Times reported
Ms dos Santos with Amber Heard (left) and Cara Delevingne (right) at Cannes in May 2014
In addition to having the signature of the late Seventies martial arts star rather than hers, the passport showed two different serial numbers, the wrong date of birth and information in English when Angolan documents are in Portuguese, she said.
Insisting she is innocent, Mrs dos Santos claimed her fortune was ‘built on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance’.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, English-educated Mrs dos Santos, owner of a £13million home in Kensington, West London, said the Angolan and Portuguese courts had relied on ‘fabricated evidence’ to pin blame on her.
How Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled with an iron fist for 38 years
Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled the oil-rich southern African country of Angola with an iron fist for 38 years.
Top positions were awarded to his cronies and wealth accumulated in the hands of a select few during this time.
His time in charge was also widely associated with authoritarianism, corruption and nepotism.
He left a legacy of poverty and nepotism after stepping down in 2017 from the top job in a country still recovering from a 1975-2002 civil war.
In April, prosecutors froze the bank accounts and holdings owned by his daughter Isabel and her husband.
But Mr dos Santos’s children claim they have been unfairly targeted by an anti-graft campaign by their father’s successor President Joao Lourenco.
His son Jose Filomeno went on trial earlier this year for allegedly embezzling $500million (£385million) from Angola’s sovereign fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018. Nicknamed ‘Zenu’, he faces up to 12 years in jail if found guilty.
Meanwhile, Zenu’s half-sister Welwitschia was suspended from Angola’s parliament last October for absenteeism and ‘unjust enrichment’.
‘It appears that a well-orchestrated state campaign has been waged against me,’ she told MailOnline. ‘It’s ridiculous that Portugal, a senior EU country, should seize assets based on the Angolan state’s reliance on a passport that a child could see is a fake.
‘Evidence has been fabricated on the back of sham emails and the signature of a beloved but long dead movie star. This is not right and my assets should be released as a matter of urgency.’
Last year, Angolan courts charged Mrs dos Santos, who was educated at Cobham Hall girls’ boarding school in Kent and King’s College London, with a long list of crimes including embezzlement and money laundering, allegedly committed during her time at the helm of the state oil giant Sonangol.
She and her husband were accused of steering payments of more than $1billion (£800,000) from publicly-owned company to firms in which they held stakes, before moving it out of the country.
Their accounts were frozen in Angola in December. Portuguese prosecutors followed suit in February after she was accused of corruption during her time at Sonangol.
Evidence included emails that seemed to show Mrs dos Santos contacting Japanese businesses, offering to invest €1billion as a way of getting embezzled funds out of Angola. Her passport was apparently scanned to prove she was genuine.
But the emails were simply sent by a shady Middle Eastern fraudster who faked the passport to con the Japanese – and the court took the documents at face value, she said.
Alvaro Joao, spokesman for Angola’s public prosecutor, dismissed the accusations as a ‘comedy’. He said: ‘The passport is not a sufficient document for a magistrate to order… (a halt to) banking operations.’
An international arrest warrant for Mrs dos Santos could be issued if she failed to cooperate with the investigation, the prosecutor added, pointing out that the Portuguese court had not relied on the questionable documents.
The colourful socialite built up a vast business empire over the past two decades, with stakes in several Angolan and Portuguese companies. She has spoken of her hopes to become president in 2022.
Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves but its wealth is concentrated in the hands of a ruling elite. Among the general population, life expectancy is among the lowest in the world and infant mortality is among the highest
Mrs dos Santos left Angola in 2017 when her father stepped down and spends her time between London and Dubai, though her current whereabouts are a closely guarded secret.
Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves but its wealth is concentrated in the hands of a ruling elite. Among the general population, life expectancy is among the lowest in the world and infant mortality is among the highest.
A consortium of investigative journalists, after analysing a trove of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents, accused the former first daughter of looting state coffers during her father’s nearly four-decade rule.
The leaked documents appeared to reveal how she secured access to lucrative deals involving diamonds, telecoms, oil and land, cutting shady deals that allowed her and her husband to purchase valuable assets belonging to the state.