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Luxury Swiss jeweller De Grisogono has collapsed following investigations into its owners.
Luxury Swiss jeweller De Grisogono has collapsed following investigations into its owners.

Celebrity jeweller De Grisogono files for bankruptcy amid Dos Santos scandal

Following a media investigation into the financial dealings of Angolan billionaire Isabel Dos Santos, luxury Swiss jeweller De Grisogono has filed for bankruptcy.

Dos Santos’ husband, Congolese art dealer Sindika Dokolo, acquired De Grisogono in 2012 in a joint deal with Sodiam, the the Angolan state-owned diamond company.

In order to complete the transaction, Sodiam took out a loan with a private bank partly-owned by Dos Santos, who has been named as Africa’s richest woman by Forbes.

The loan was guaranteed by Dos Santos’ father, former Angolan president José Eduardo Dos Santos, making Angolan taxpayers responsible for the repayments and interest.

The New York Times reported that Angolan state funds were also used to finance lavish De Grisogono promotional parties thrown during the Cannes Film Festival.

"Angolan state funds were also used to finance lavish De Grisogono promotional parties thrown during the Cannes Film Festival"

Despite further investments into De Grisogono, the business has continually lost money since the 2012 purchase. 

The current Angolan government, led by president João Lourenço, announced plans to sell its stake in De Grisogono in 2017 but was unsuccessful.

In a statement to JCK, De Grisogono management confirmed that the business had been for sale for several months but had failed to find a buyer.

If the bankruptcy filing is accepted by the Swiss court, 65 jobs will be lost at its Geneva headquarters. De Grisogono also operates 14 boutiques worldwide, including in New York, Paris, Rome, and Dubai.

All eyes on Angola

More than $US1 billion of the couple’s assets were frozen in December last year amid allegations of embezzlement related to the Angolan state petroleum and natural gas company Sonangol, of which Dos Santos was briefly chairwoman.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists later published further details of the couple’s financial dealings in an article entitled, ‘How Africa’s richest woman exploited family ties, shell companies and inside deals to build an empire’.

Dos Santos, who lives in the UK, has called the allegations “extremely misleading and untrue”, and “a very concentrated, orchestrated and well-coordinated political attack”.

Dos Santos and Dokolo also have substantial interests in Angola’s diamond sector. The African nation has diamond reserves estimated at 180 million carats, which has the potential for Angola to become the world’s number one diamond producing country.

Above: Isabel Dos Santos, ‘Africa’s richest woman’, with her husband Sindika Dokolo.

 

More reading:
Potential ramifications for jewellery industry after mammoth bank fraud case
Jewellery company executives charged with financial crimes, forgery
Second jewellery heist at Cannes











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Wednesday, 19 February, 2020 06:46pm
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