The world of billionaires often comes with its fair share of glitz and glamour, but it’s not immune to scandals that can shake the foundations of even the most powerful individuals.
In Africa, where economic disparities are stark, the lives of billionaires aren’t always as pristine as their bank accounts.
From business magnates entangled in corruption allegations to tycoons facing legal battles, this article delves into the intriguing stories of five African billionaires who found themselves facing massive scandals that rocked their status and reputations. Let’s get started.
South African Billionaire, Christo Wiese, was informed of a serious accounting fraud at retailer Steinhoff International, where he was both chairman and the largest shareholder in December 2017.
The fraud totalled $7.4 billion in falsified transactions over a span of nine years from 2009 to 2017. When the fraud went public, Wiese stepped down as chairman.
While it was proven that Wiese had no role in the fraud, the 90% drop in the share price of Steinhoff, Wiese’s most valuable asset–pummelled his fortune, from an estimated $5.6 billion in March 2017 to $1.1 billion in 2018.
Nigerian Billionaire, Femi Otedola reportedly gave a bribe to Farouk Lawan, Chairman of the House Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, “integrity group” a sum of $620,000.
Newsmen stated Otedola gave them the money because he wanted the name of his company removed from the list of firms indicted by Farouq Lawan’s committee for abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
Reports say Otedola was caught red-handed in a video giving a bribe and Farouk Lawan accepting it.
Isabel dos Santos
Angolan billionaire, Isabel dos Santos was in 2020 charged with money laundering and mismanagement during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.
Addressing a news conference, Prosecutor General Helder Pitta Gros said “Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management … forgery of documents, among other economic crimes.”
Documents also alleged that Isabella who was once named Africa’s richest woman plundered state coffers to build her fortune, estimated at $2.1 billion.
The daughter of ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos left the country after her father who ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly 40 years, stepped down in 2017.
Mohammed Al Amoudi
Saudi-Ethiopian Billionaire, Mohammed Al Amoudi was accused of corruption at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel located in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) who conducted the corruption crackdown detained Mohammed Al Amoudi in Saudi for 14 months. He was later released through the intervention of the Ethiopian government. Reports say he made his initial fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia.
Egyptian Billionaire, Samih Sawiris was accused of providing conflicting information regarding his holding company’s ownership in its subsidiary Orascom Hotels and Development by a Cairo court.
The court went ahead to sentence him to two years in jail and ordered him to pay fines and bail.
While the company and Sawiris claim the allegations are unfounded, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority hanged a $3 million fine on the billionaire.
Sawiris later paid $3,376 in bail and appealed the decision.
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