Maputo — Mozambican prosecutors have asked the country's banks to provide details of the accounts held by former President Armando Guebuza, as part of the investigations into the security-linked companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), according to a report by the Bloomberg news agency.
Bloomberg said it had obtained a copy of the letter sent to the banks by the Attorney-General's Office (PGR) which requested information on Guebuza, 17 other named individuals and one institution, for the period January 2012 to December 2016.
PGR spokesperson Georgina Zandamela told Bloomberg that the request is part of the audit into Ematum, Proindicus and MAM being undertaken by the London branch of the US company Kroll. She said Mozambique's sub judice rules made it impossible for her to say anything further.
Contacted by the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, Zandamela said “the PGR does not comment on ongoing cases”. But she added that the document quoted by Bloomberg “did not come from the PGR. We are not the source for this information”.
The only other plausible explanation is that somebody in one of the banks leaked the letter to Bloomberg.
According to “Mediafax”, in addition to Guebuza himself, the accounts which the PGR/Kroll wants to investigate belong to, among others, two of the former President's sons, Ndambi and Mussumbuluko, and to people who had worked in Guebuza's presidential office, including Renato Matusse, Edson Macuacua (currently chairperson of the parliamentary constitutional and legal affairs commission), Neuza Matos and Marlene Magaia.
When Bloomberg contacted Guebuza's office, asking for comment, it was told that a response would be ready in 21 days. Isalcio Mahanjane, a lawyer who represented Guebuza when he was questioned last year by a parliamentary commission of inquiry, said he had not seen the PGR request.
The companies covered by the Kroll audit received over two billion dollars in loans from European banks (mainly Credit Suisse and the Russian bank VTB) in 2013 and 2014. These loans were illegally guaranteed by the Guebuza government, and thus became part of the country's foreign debt stock. The guarantees smashed the limits on government guarantees fixed in the 2013 and 2014 budget laws, and also violated the Constitution which stipulates that only the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic may authorise such debts.
Predictably, none of the three companies were able to service their debts, and it soon proved that their viability studies were based on wildly optimistic assumptions. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, has told the creditors that the government cannot repay the loans either, and has urged them to negotiate a debt restructuring.
While the Ematum loan (of 850 million US dollars) was known, because it took the form of a public bond issue, the Proindicus and MAM loans (of 622 and 535 million dollars respectively) were kept hidden until April 2016. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other western partners, accused Mozambique of misreporting its debt situation, and cut off financial assistance.
The IMF insisted that relations can only return to normal after an independent, international audit of the three companies. Kroll has until 28 April to submit its audit report. It is hoped that this will reveal what assets and services were purchased with the loans, whether the assets purchased arrived in Mozambique, whether they were properly priced, and whether any of the money has gone missing.