German police seize bank records in Luanda Leaks brewery probe

Police searched the head­quar­ters of Germany’s state-owned export bank last month as part of a crim­i­nal probe sparked by the Luanda Leaks inves­ti­ga­tion, local media has reported.

Federal police seized files from KfW-Ipex-Bank, a sub­sidiary of Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), fol­low­ing alle­ga­tions that bank employ­ees mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed pub­lic funds when grant­i­ng a $55 mil­lion loan to the brew­ery of Angolan bil­lion­aire Isabel dos Santos, accord­ing to Suddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR.

Authorities are also inves­ti­gat­ing whether KfW prop­er­ly vet­ted dos Santos’ ties to the beer com­pa­ny, Sodiba, before grant­i­ng the loan, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR reported.

In 2015, the KfW sub­sidiary loaned Sodiba $55 mil­lion through an Angolan bank, accord­ing to Luanda Leaks, a col­lab­o­ra­tion by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and jour­nal­ists in 20 coun­tries. The inves­ti­ga­tion revealed how dos Santos, Africa’s rich­est woman, moved hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in pub­lic mon­ey out of one of the world’s poor­est countries.

The Luanda Leaks inves­ti­ga­tion revealed that dos Santos used the loan to buy a brew­ery and bot­tle fill­ing sys­tems from German man­u­fac­tur­er Krones AG, accord­ing to report­ing by media part­ners. Krones AG told reporters at the time of the inves­ti­ga­tion that it did not pre­vi­ous­ly know dos Santos’ owned Sodiba. Public records exist­ed for years before the loan that tied the daugh­ter of Angola’s auto­crat­ic pres­i­dent, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to the company.

In set­ting up the brew­ery, ICIJ report­ed, dos Santos also used tax havens and advice from PwC in an effort to avoid pay­ing tax­es in Angola.

KfW con­firmed an inves­ti­ga­tion to Süddeutsche Zeitung and said it was coop­er­at­ing with author­i­ties. The import-export bank is one of the world’s largest gov­ern­ment financ­ing agen­cies. Representatives from Germany’s min­istry of finance sit on its super­vi­so­ry board.“Wir bestati­gen” (We con­firm). KfW con­firms the inves­ti­ga­tion tak­ing place on the bank’s email from KfW

German police did not respond to requests for comment.

Dos Santos denies wrong­do­ing. In December 2019, before the pub­li­ca­tion of Luanda Leaks but after dos Santos and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Government of Angola received detailed ques­tions from ICIJ, a Luanda court froze dos Santos’ assets and those of her hus­band, includ­ing the couple’s stake in Sodiba. Dos Santos faces crim­i­nal and civ­il charges in Angola.

Sodiba & KfW doc­u­ments from Luanda Leaks