Mozambique: U.S. Refused to Cooperate With Govt On Secret Debt, Says Attorney General

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in court during an extradition hearing in Johannesburg.

Mozambique's Attorney General made formal requests to the United States starting 30 March 2017 and the last on 14 March 2018 about bank transfers relating to companies in the United Arab Emirates and other countries. There was never any reply. But the data Mozambique was asking for appeared in the indictment issued in New York. Similar requests were made to the UAE, again without reply. The claims were made in a press statement yesterday afternoon by the Attorney General's office (PGR, Procuradoria-Geral da Republica). In effect the PRG is accusing the US of refusing to cooperate and preventing Mozambique from bringing charges by not providing key informaiton, so that Manuel Chang and others cold be tried in the US rather than Mozambique.

The US Embassy in Maputo responded that it "does not comment on our bilateral communications with the Government of Mozambique." The Department of Justice in the US cannot reply due to the US government shutdown.

However Carta de Mocambique (7 Jan) points out that in March 2017 the Attorney General's office demanded bank details of one company and 17 individuals, which should have provided some of the same information. So far, there is no indication of local prosecutions.

In response to the US prosecution, the Attorney General's office revealed it is proceeding against 18 people in cases related to the $2 bn secret debt.

Although vague, the press statement hints that the Attorney General wants to try Manuel Chang in Mozambique "for crimes committed in Mozambican territory" and is appealing to the South Africa to return him to Mozambique rather than allow him to be sent to the USA.

The PRG statement (in Portuguese) is on

Chang hearing postponed to tomorrow

The extradition hearing for Finance Minister Manuel Chang was postponed until tomorrow to allow prosecutors to prepare their submissions. Prosecutor Elivera Dreyer was overwhelmed by the range of arguments of Chang's legal team and asked for an extra day to respond to the submissions. Lawyer Willie Vermeulen said the extradition had not been properly requested, and complained of what he considered Dreyer's lack of preparation. The hearing this morning was at Kempton Park Magistrates Court in Johannesburg, under magistrate Sagra Subroyen. (eNCA, Carta de Mocambique)

Mozambicans picketed outside the court demanding that Chang and others pay back the money, supporting the extradition request, and saying Guebuza and Chang have "are selling Mozambique". (O Pais online 8 Jan)

The US indictment is on

W arning: The Chang arrest has triggered a flood of fake news on social media, including a fake facebook page and a doctored version of the indictment which claims to show the redacted names of the two unidentified but charged Mozambicans. Many things are circulated on social media without identifying the original source, which should be a warning. jh

Civil society says don't pay

"The Mozambican government must immediately suspend debt restructuring of the three companies, which means suspending all agreements with international creditors holding hidden debt. The Grand Jury charges of the New York Court are serious enough that no debt repayment should be made until the case is fully clarified," declared CIP (Public Integrity Centre, Centro de Integridade Pública) in a statement issued 6 January:

CIP stresses that the US indictment shows that the main lender, Credit Suisse, "has enormous responsibilities in granting illegal loans to Mozambique." For example, the indictment shows it removed from its credit conditions the requirement that the debt be approved by the Attorney General and that the granting of debt be communicated to the IMF. This means that Credit Suisse "accepted that the Mozambican loans were secret and therefore illegal in Mozambique". Above all, these decisions were approved by top officials of one of the largest investment banks in the world.

CIP concludes: "This debt is not ours. We will not pay."

The NGO coalition, the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO; Forum de Monitoria do Orcamento) in its statement in English, said "Mozambican people should not be expected to repay illegal debts, especially as there is concrete evidence of criminality. Any claims arising out of illegal debts must be brought against the International Banks, contractors, and any other beneficiary of proceeds from the illegal debt.

Cabo Delgado small war continues

Seven people were killed Sunday when an open truck carrying passengers was attacked in Nangade district. An armed group stopped the lorry with gunshots, then used machetes to kill the driver and six passengers. (O Pais 8 Jan) Attacks on road traffic began in November, and it appears that the insurgents are moving to Renamo tactics of attacking traffic. (See newsletters 424, 425) O Pais also reports an attack on Saturday on Mussemuku, in the continental part of Ibo district, with no victims.

Also on Saturday, journalist Amade Abubakar was detained by police in Macomia district. On a borrowed mobile phone he told his family that he was “repeatedly and brutally kicked” by police before being driven 300 km on the floor of a truck to Mueda Sunday. Eye-witnesses report that, immediately prior to his detention, Abubakar had been photographing households escaping insurgents and fleeing into Macomia town. Abubakar works for the Macomia community radio station, owned by the government's Mass Communications Institute (ICS). He also strings for the Zitamar news agency. (AIM, Zitamar 7 Jan) AIM points out that "there is nothing remotely illegal about such photography, although it might well embarrass the military."

Raids late last year included:
+ The village of Pequeue, Macomia, was completely burned on 30 December. There were no injuries because all residents had fled the village after they heard reports of insurgents in the area. The village had been attacked three months earlier.
+ Two fishermen were decapitated in Monjane, Palma, on 29 December.
+ On 26 December Ingoane, Pangane, Macomia was attacked by about 10 people speaking local languages; some shops and houses were burned and a mother of three children was decapitated.
+ On 24 December, the military was reinforced by 70 additional soldiers.
+ On 21 December the village of Chucini, Macomia, was attacked; 103 houses were burned with no injures.
+ Milamba, Macomia, was attacked on 20 December, with three dead and 70 houses burned.
+ Seventeen other attacks have been reported in recent weeks. (Carta de Mocambique 21, 25, 27, 31 Dec, 2 Jan)

Defence Minister Salvador M'tumuke Monday in Cabo Delgado again played down the attacks and said the defence forces were in control of the situation. He said that attacks were being carried out by individuals who are hard to identify because they have been enticed by promises of good jobs and then sent for military training. (O Pais 8 Jan) Comment: This confirms the government admission that the insurgency is the result of lack of development and especially the failure to create jobs since the end of the war 25 years ago. jh

A South African who has run a marina in Palma, Cabo Delgado, for 26 years, Andre Hanekom, and who was shot and arrested 24 July 2018 by military police, was formally accused by the Attorney General on 24 December of being the paymaster of the insurgents. He was charged with two Mozambicans and two Tanzanians. The charge says that the group has five military bases and pays the insurgents MT 10,000 ($160) per month. (O Pais 4 Jan)

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