Fawaz Gruosi lives a life of duplicitous duality: he has managed a career as a famed jewelry designer to the stars while simultaneously being at the center of one of the largest money laundering schemes in modern history on behalf of his benefactor, Isabel dos Santos. Dos Santos, daughter of the late Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is currently wanted by Angolan prosecutors for widespread embezzlement and fraud, having stolen billions of dollars’ in assets from the Angolan state.
Dos Santos has denied the embezzlement charges and claims she is the victim of a political “witch-hunt”. She continues to live her lavish lifestyle in Dubai, where it appears she has protection from the current Interpol red notice warrant for her arrest. According to Bellingcat, she was seen enjoying a meal at Nusr-Et Steakhouse Dubai and dancing near a pool at the Bulgari Hotel, an enclave in Dubai for the ultra-high-net worth international jet-set crowd.
On the other hand, Gruosi has remained unusually quiet since receiving a “golden parachute” from the Emiratis in 2021. As part of his deal, the UAE-based Damac Group real estate conglomerate purchased De Grisogono and is expected to continue to tap Grusoi for creative direction. Prior to Damac’s purchase, Gruosi was a fixture on the red carpet, and promoted his flashy, glamorous lifestyle through numerous interviews. For a man who has never avoided the spotlight, what does he have to hide?
One might surmise that Gruosi doesn’t want to create unnecessary international attention to his involvement in dos Santos’ theft, likely landing him beside her on an Interpol list and embroiled in widespread criminal charges. After all, dos Santos funded Gruosi’s business operations and lavish parties while giving him access to diamonds from Sodiam at deeply discounted prices. And contrary to Gruosi’s highly publicized story that De Grisogono’s ties to Angola were formed when dos Santos “rescued” the company in 2012, corporate records demonstrate that Gruosi tapped the dos Santos family banker, Bénédict Fontanet, as a registered officer of De Grisogono SA from 1995, the year it was founded, until at least 2012.
While an officer of De Grisogono, Fontanet was simultaneously the vice president of Banque de Patrimoines Privés Genève (BPPG) that, through its subsidiary, managed at least approximately CHF 200 million of assets reportedly belonging to none other than…the dos Santos family.
So, perhaps Gruosi’s silence is an effort to avoid publicly exposing his longstanding history of connectivity to the Angolan laundromat that extends far beyond 2012.
Or, could it be that he is reticent to highlight his connections to unsavory characters that extend far beyond his partnership with dos Santos. From 2006 to 2017, Gruosi was a founding partner of Geneva-based restaurant Le Quirinale with his business partner Tonino Leone. Leone, a former registered officer of Quirinale SA, is currently wanted by Italian law enforcement on suspicions of running a money laundering operation for the Italian mob, specifically the Senese family. His other pals include sex offenders Harvey Weinstein (pictured left) and Jeffrey Epstein.
For now, while dos Santos appears to be content filming Tik Tok videos in her Dubai oasis, Gruosi appears to be on a much shorter (and quieter) leash.