The United States says it is greatly disappointed with South Africa’s decision to send a former Mozambican finance minister home instead of to the U.S. to stand trial on fraud charges.
Manuel Chang is accused of a money laundering scheme that plunged Mozambique into its worst financial crisis in history.
South African authorities arrested him in December at the request of the U.S., which accuses him of cheating American investors.
“We urge the government of South Africa to send Mr. Chang to the United States to stand trial for these alleged crimes, which victimized U.S. citizens and robbed the government of Mozambique of over $700 million,” the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria said Wednesday.
There has been no comment from the South African government.
Chang is accused of taking out about $2 billion in loans on behalf of the government of Mozambique when he was finance minister between 2005 and 2015 and receiving millions in kickbacks.
The government knew about some of the loans, but not others. When the debt was revealed to the public, international donors cut off much of their aid to Mozambique and the country’s currency became almost worthless.
Chang has denied the charges.
Authorities in Mozambique have arrested several other officials allegedly involved in the scheme, but it is unclear whether Chang has been charged.