All this is part of a recent expose of Dos Santos' shady dealing, in the Luanda Leaks scandal. I've mentioned Luanda here before, as the most expensive place to live. Paradise if you can afford it, and most Angolans can't. Roughly half the population lives in abject poverty, and roughly a third of the country's entire population lives in Luanda. Angola's crawling out of decades of civil war. The ruling social democratic MPLA party is riddled with corruption and vice. Isobel dos Santos, the daughter of a former president, is one of the richest women in the world, and allegedly the centerpiece of a conspiracy to strip Angola of its oil cash - and 80% of Angola's economy is dependent on oil. [Not to quickly rehash something I've already written …]
The articles talk about many things, but I'm going to focus on the diamond dealer De Grisogono. Founded in the early 1990s by a black diamond specialist, this luxury jeweler soon became a centerpiece of high society. It regularly makes record sales at Christie's auction house. Its parties at Cannes are the stuff of legend.
Not that De Grisogono actually makes money, goodness gracious me no. Its accounts are awash in red ink. Its sales in its Vegas and St Moritz boutiques are abysmal. Meanwhile its ultimate owner, Sindika Dokolo and his wife, De Santos, buy its diamonds for themselves at cut-rate prices. Most of the cash that enabled the pair to buy the jeweler allegedly came from Angolan state funds.
On the other side of the fence, a Portuguese bank co-owned by De Santos hit the news when a senior executive, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, was found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after he was named, along with three others, as a person of interest in a massive Angolan anti-corruption investigation called for by Angola's new President. The banker allegedly helped De Santos shuffle funds. His bank, EuroBic, has since cut all contact with De Santos, one of its shareholders. She held 42% of its stock, which she intends to sell.
Conspiracy, money laundering, luxury, vice, and glittering high society. Can vampires be far behind?
One of the major vampire-adjacent intelligence agencies - it might be China's Room 452, since China has historic links with Angola, but any of the European agencies might get involved - becomes suspicious of a proposed takeover of a Swiss luxury jewelers, Grupard, when one of the bankers involved in the deal winds up dead.
Grupard, wholly owned by Luanda billionaire Mafuta Domingos, who has family links to the current government, is in red ink up to its eyeballs, but still makes all the most wealthy destinations glitter. Cannes, Monaco, St Moritz - everyone wears Grupard diamonds. However there are rumors that all is not well in the Domingos household, and that there is pressure from an outside consortium to sell her stake in Grupard. It may simply be the ebb-and-flow of Angolan politics, where nobody's ever sure of their position. It may be more than that. The rumor mill says Domingos is worried her family connections won't cut it any more, that it may be time to make that final plane journey somewhere where the weather is pleasant and nobody can even spell extradition, much less attempt it. The sale of Grupard would ease her passage, but the Consortium she's doing business with won't meet her asking price.
Things come to a head when one of the most important executives at the Portuguese bank Banco Prima, which she part-owns with several other important Angolans, winds up dead. This man was in charge of her private finances, as well as her lead negotiator in the Grupard sale. There are reasons to think that, before his death, the banker was concerned about SBA influence, gathering Banes and seeking religious consultation. His colleagues interpret this as a spiritual crisis that ended in suicide, but the intelligence agency suspects something else.
Through cut-outs, they bring in the agents to act as an 'independent' stalking horse. They have their own hitters waiting in the background, but they want a much better idea of who to hit before they strike.
The agents are tasked with infiltrating the next stage of the negotiations, which are being held at Cannes during a prestigious event at the Cannes Film Festival. They'll need to be able to pass as high society types, or possibly their bodyguards. They are to find out the details of the negotiations, and most importantly, the purchase price.
Then There Were None. The purchasers are part of a Conspiracy node, and their task is to draw out Domingos. They don't want Grupard, but it's a convenient excuse to get close to Domingos. They want her; her bank accounts, her government connections, her international prestige. While she was in Angola, it was difficult to get close enough to influence her. Now she's in Cannes it should be easy - they just have to eliminate a few of her close associates first, to get a clear path to the objective. Quietly eliminate, of course - it wouldn't do to cause a scandal at Cannes.
Jack-in-the-Box. The problem isn't the purchasers, it's Domingos. She wants in, and this whole arrangement is to buy her way in. She keeps pouring money into the Conspiracy's pockets in the hope of impressing them, but it's never enough. The banker was unfortunate enough to get too close to the gates of hell and paid the price, but she doesn't care. This sale is her final gambit, and if this doesn't work, she'll do something drastic, something public. That is something the Conspiracy can't abide.
Never Say Die. It was never about the jeweler, it was about the bank. That financier who committed suicide was a would-be vampire - suicide's the way, so they say. Now he lies in unhallowed ground, waiting for his chance for revenge against his faithless employer. He'll be at Cannes with the others, eager for the hunt. The Conspiracy doesn't mind what the banker does with his immortality; what it wanted was access codes, passwords, bank accounts. While Domingos is busy at Cannes, they're busy in Portugal, draining her accounts of every last Euro, Dollar and Kwanza. The purchasers are just ordinary rich people playing hardball with someone they see as a weak negotiator. Meanwhile Domingos is throwing her weight around as only a spoilt child and billionaire can, denying with her last breath that disaster's at the door.