Maputo — The trial began on Tuesday, before the Maputo City Court, of four military officers and five civilians, charged with stealing 36 million meticais from the accounts of the Army Command over a six year period (2010-2015).
At the time of the theft, the amount stolen was worth around 1.2 million US dollars, though the subsequent depreciation of the metical means it would be worth much less at today's exchange rates.
According to the report on the trial in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the officers are Ernesto Rufino, Anibal Joaquim, Abdul Ismael and Hussene Ismael who worked in administrative functions in the Army Command of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM).
The civilians are all women, some of whom are said to have been lovers of the officers. They are Sonia Cossa, Monica Mario, Guilhermina Macaringue, Sara Agostinho and Elsa Chilengue.
The prosecution initially charged twelve people. Of the three not on the dock, one is studying in China, one cannot appear because he is a six year old minor, and one has gone missing and is regarded as a fugitive.
According to the prosecution the key figures in the theft were Ernesto Rufino and Abdul Ismael, who were responsible for processing wages in the Army Command. They had access to the wage processing system, and used this access to pay themselves and others illicit wages, allowances and other bonuses. This included depositing large sums in the bank accounts of friends, colleagues and lovers. One of the accounts used was in the name of the minor, who is the son of one of the accused, and, given his age, was presumably entirely unaware of the theft.
Among the methods used to drain money was to pay wages in excess of the wages table established for the armed forces, and to pay the same person two wages in one month. Under these corrupt schemes, officers with a wage of 15,000 meticais a month, could end up with more than 100,000 meticais a month.