Mozambique: Prosecution Seizes Assets From 'Hidden Debts' Suspects

Maputo — The Mozambican Attorney-General's Office (PGR) has asked the Maputo City Court to declare the seizure, in favour of the State, of money and assets acquired illicitly by the 20 suspects in the case of the country's "hidden debts", according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".

The term "hidden debts" refers to the loans, in 2013-2014, of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia to the three fraudulent, security-related companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).

The loans were only granted because of illegal loan guarantees signed by the then Finance Minister Manuel Chang. No proper viability studies were undertaken for any of the three companies which are now effectively bankrupt, leaving the Mozambican state to repay the loans.

During the fraudulent transactions, according to the indictment drawn up by the US justice authorities, at least 200 million dollars was spent on bribes and kickbacks, paid by the Abu Dhabi based Privinvest group, which was the sole contractor for the three companies.

Mozambican prosecutors have identified how much of the bribe money ended up in the pockets of the suspects, and what it was used for. The PGR is now attempting to ensure that the accused do not obtain any benefits from their illicit activities. It wants to confiscate not only the assets obtained, but also any rents paid by tenants who occupied buildings obtained with the bribe money.

From Ndambi Guebuza, oldest son of President Armando Guebuza, the PGR has ordered the seizure of 14 vehicles, and two houses. It has also frozen ten of his accounts (which only contained the equivalent of 3,482 dollars).

The PGR also ordered the seizure from Teofilo Nhangumele, the fixer who played a key role in arranging the first of the illicit loans, to Proindicus, of four houses and three cars. It froze eight bank accounts, which contained a total equivalent to slightly less than 121,500 dollars.

The former head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE) under Guebuza, Gregorio Leao, and his wife Angela saw eight houses and several plots of land seized. Eight accounts were frozen but they only contained the equivalent of 2,915 dollars.

From the former head of SISE economic intelligence, Antonio do Rosario, who became the chairperson of all three fraudulent companies, the PGR demanded the seizure of two houses in South Africa and two in Maputo. His frozen accounts contained the equivalent of 9,217 dollars.

The PGR ordered the seizure of two houses from Ines Moiane, who was Guebuza's private secretary. Her frozen accounts contained the equivalent of about 14,700 dollars, mostly held in euros.

Renato Matusse, former political advisor to Guebuza, lost three houses and two cars. Six of his bank accounts were frozen, holding over 1.2 million meticais (about 19,350 dollars).

The PGR also ordered the seizure of three houses in Mozambique and one in South Africa, 845 head of cattle, a backhoe loader and two cars from SISE agent Bruno Langa, His frozen bank account contained 54 million meticais (about 871,000 dollars).

The prosecutors ordered the seizure of a house from Sergio Namburete, a business acquaintance of the Leao couple. His four frozen accounts contained the equivalent of 5,235 dollars.

Finally, the PGR wants to seize a mechanical shovel acquired by businessman Fabiao Mabunda, and to freeze nine of his accounts. It is not clear how much money they contain.

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