The global chairman of PwC has warned that heads could roll at the professional services firm over its links to Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, who is battling allegations that she obtained her wealth through corruption and nepotism.
Bob Moritz, whose firm advised companies belonging to Dos Santos and her husband across multiple jurisdictions, told the Guardian he was “shocked and disappointed” by recent disclosures about the British-headquartered accounting firm’s work for the daughter of Angola’s former president.
The complex financial schemes that helped Dos Santos amass an estimated $2.2bn (£1.7bn) fortune at the expense of the Angolan state have been revealed this week in the Luanda Leaks investigation, based on a huge cache of documents leaked from her business empire.
Moritz said a PwC investigation would examine whether any individuals at the partnership should lose leadership positions, have their bonuses docked or lose their jobs.
“We’ll look at the individual behaviours, as to whether they come out of leadership roles or have compensation implications, or maybe even [come] out of jobs,” Moritz said, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“We’ll wait for the investigation, I don’t want to rush. But we need to move with speed to take action to regain confidence.”
Dos Santos has denied that her fortune is the result of nepotism or corruption, and she and her husband have rejected any allegations of wrongdoing, saying their wealth is the result of decades of hard work, and that moves to freeze their assets in Angola are part of a politically motivated “witch-hunt” by her father’s successor as president.
“There is an orchestrated attack by the current government that is completely politically motivated, it’s completely unfounded,” Dos Santos told BBC News. “I can say my holdings are commercial, there are no proceeds from contracts or public contracts or money that has been deviated from other funds.”
On Monday a Portuguese bank part-owned by Dos Santos announced that she and her associates had been banned as customers. After being shut out by some of the world’s biggest banks, Dos Santos had been relying increasingly on Eurobic, in which she holds a 42.5% stake, to move money.
Eurobic issued a statement distancing itself from its main shareholder. Citing Luanda Leaks, and the “public perception that this bank may not entirely fulfil its obligations” because Dos Santos was a shareholder, Eurobic said its board had decided to “terminate the commercial relationship with entities controlled by [Dos Santos] and people closely related [to her]”.
Luanda Leaks is a cache of 715,0000 files from the administrators of her empire, examined by the Guardian and media outlets in 20 countries in an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The documents suggest PwC, one of the big four global accountancy firms, acted as auditor, consultant and tax adviser to companies controlled by Dos Santos and her husband in Switzerland, Malta, the Netherlands and Angola.
According to the New York Times, another ICIJ partner, PwC worked with 20 of their companies.