Mozambique: Key Figure in 'Hidden Debts' Wanted More Kickbacks

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Maputo — The man who allegedly boasted to friends that he was the mastermind of the greatest fraud in Mozambican financial history, Teofilo Nhangumele, took eight million US dollars in kickbacks from the Abu Dhabi-based Privinvest group, but wanted still more, according to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

Details of Nhangumele's financial demands are included in the dispatch from judge Evandra Uamusse of the Maputo City Court, authorising a trial of Nhangumele and 19 other accused in connection with Mozambique's "hidden debts",

This term refers to the fraudulent scheme whereby three security-linked companies, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) were set up, which then borrowed over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013-2014. Key to the fraud were illicit government loan guarantees mostly signed by the then finance minister, Manuel Chang.

Nhangumele was one of the fixers who worked to ensure that the scheme went ahead. Credit Suisse wanted a vehicle for the initial loan (of 622 million dollars), and this vehicle would become Proindicus. Sovereign guarantees from the Mozambican government would also be required.

Nhangumele spoke to Chang, and then sent a message to Privinvest salesman Jean Boustani (currently under detention in New York), which said "Oi, bro! I had a meeting with chopstick (a racist term for Chang, who is partly of Chinese descent). He wants to know if Credit Suisse will accept the sovereign guarantees. The Ministry of Finance cannot sign the contract with Credit Suisse, but is willing and ready to issue a sovereign guarantee for the full amount of the loan".

When everything was unblocked, Nhangumele received the eight million dollars from Privinvest. But then he found himself being pushed away from the project, because he was not an agent of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), the main shareholder in the three fraudulent companies.

He then wrote to the former head of economic intelligence at SISE, Antonio do Rosario, who had become chairperson of Proindicus, and demanded a further 500,000 dollars. He said he had worked with the security and defence authorities and even with President Armando Guebuza to ensure the project's approval. It was he who had created and registered the name Proindicus, and he had paid for his personal transport costs and for the photocopying and duplication of assorted documents.

Nhangumele thought that, since he had made the project possible, he should be paid more. But Rosario told him no money would be forthcoming from Proindicus, because the company had been set up after the work done by Nhangumele.

According to "Carta de Mocambique", the judge's dispatch also reveals that Rosario used his SISE status to intimidate workers at the Bank of Mozambique, claiming that if they did not authorise the debts that would "endanger the internal security of the Mozambican state".

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