Mozambique: INSS Case - Verdict and Sentence Postponed

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Maputo — The Maputo City Court has delayed the verdict and sentence in a corruption case involving the National Social Security Institute (INSS), supposedly because the judge Rui Dauane is ill, reports Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

The reading of the verdict was scheduled for 09.00 on Monday, but when reporters went to the courtroom, they were told it had been postponed, because of Dauane's illness. Court officials said the judge had been hospitalised, but did not reveal the nature of his illness.

The defence lawyers were also taken by surprise. The court had given them no warning that the Monday session was being postponed. Other, unnamed sources told the newsheet that the judge's whereabouts are unknown.

In the dock are the chairperson of the INSS, Francisco Mazoio, the INSS former general director Baptista Machaieie, and Miguel Ângelo Cuado Ribeiro, the former managing director of CR Aviation and the majority shareholder in the company. They face charges of abuse of office and embezzlement.

At stake is the accusation that 84 million meticais (about 1.3 million US dollars) was diverted from INSS funds to purchase four aircraft for CR Aviation.

In her closing statement, the prosecutor, Sheila Matavele, said Mazoio and Machaieie had consciously violated the INSS internal regulations, when they agreed to lend the money to CR Aviation.

Alerted to this deal by press reports in 2016, the public prosecutor's office investigated and found a damning range of irregularities which constitute criminal offences. Thus, the Memorandum of Understanding between the INSS and CR aviation was not submitted for approval to the Administrative Tribunal, the body that inspects the legality of public expenditure.

CR Aviation had never submitted business plans explaining how the money the INSS invested in the company would be repaid. Additionally, the INSS managers decided to grant the money to CR Aviation without even consulting the INSS Board of Directors.

The press reports said that the INSS intended to invest US$7 million in CR Aviation. Journalists discovered that the deal had not been completed, but, by the time it was made public, 84 million meticais of INSS funds had been invested in CR Aviation.

The INSS is not allowed to invest in companies unless their shares can be traded on the Mozambique Stock Exchange (BVM), which was never the case with CR Aviation.

The defence tried to shift responsibility for the deal onto the shoulders of the minority shareholder in CR Aviation, Rogerio Manuel, former chairperson of the Confederation of Mozambican business associations (CTA), the body that represents Mozambican employers.

Ribeiro said Manuel had told him that the INSS was interested in buying shares in CR Aviation. But Ribeiro said that, after he had received the 84 million meticais from the INSS and had purchased the aircraft, he had disagreements with Manuel, and sold him his shares in the company in 2015. Ribeiro told the court he had been the victim of "an act of bad faith" by Manuel.

Manuel cannot answer this charge, since he died in a helicopter accident in December 2018.

No new date has yet been fixed for reading the verdict and sentence.

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