Boston Consulting Group, PwC, and McKinsey payments revealed; and a half billion dollars at stake for Angola

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At ICIJ, we’re not just interested in uncovering corrupt figures — but also the systems and industries that serve and profit from them.

Luanda Leaks was not just the story of how Angola’s former ruling family made a fortune by draining public coffers. The investigation also showed how Western firms played a key role in moving tainted billions through a vast network of shell companies, advising Isabel dos Santos on how to run her business empire and avoid taxes — and reaped profits along the way.

So how much did those big firms make from these dealings?

Thanks to new reporting from our partners in Portugal, we now know much more about the amount three of the world’s largest consulting firms — Boston Consulting Group, PwC, and McKinsey — pocketed during dos Santos’ time as the chief executive of Sonangol, the state-owned oil company.

Long after many banks had broken ties with dos Santos over questions about the source of her wealth, the consulting giants retained their close relationship with the billionaire despite telltale signs of corruption. Each received tens of millions of dollars in payments routed through an obscure Dubai shell company owned by a personal friend of dos Santos, according to documents seen by Expresso and SIC.

“In this case, the owner was not only a close associate of a senior public official, but that official had a clear ability to influence the business in question, creating a conflict of interest,” Alexandra Gillies, an expert with the Natural Resources Governance Institute, told ICIJ. “Those are some pretty major red flags for firms of this caliber to ignore.”

Angola has asked a Dutch court to seize on its behalf a valuable stake in an energy company obtained by Isabel dos Santos’ late husband, Sindika Dokolo. It’s the country’s latest attempt to recoup assets it alleges the family siphoned off to their personal holdings, as exposed in Luanda Leaks.

Investigating Luanda Leaks gave our team new insights on who and how corruption and offshore finance hurts across borders. Here’s what our reporting on Isabel dos Santos’ ill-gotten wealth in Angola showed us about the evolving world of tax havens as a whole.

There’s a lot of change happening around the globe at the moment, and, as with any great upheaval, there are those lying in wait to exploit. If you’ve got an inside tip or access to documents that could help expose an injustice happening in the world, please reach out to us.
Thanks for reading!

Asraa Mustufa

ICIJ’s digital editor