Maputo — Mozambican and Norwegian civil society bodies have demanded that the Norwegian state pensions fund should pull out its investment from the bank Credit Suisse, because of its involvement in the illicit loans that came close to bankrupting Mozambique.
A Policy Note issued by the Mozambican NGO N'weti, the Norwegian council on Southern Africa and the Tax Justice Network of Norway, ahead of the official visit to Maputo of Norwegian Crown Prince Haaken Magno, points out that, because of the investments by the Pension Fund, "the Norwegian people own their share of the crisis in Mozambique".
In 2013-2014, Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia lent over two billion US dollars to three fraudulent, security linked Mozambican companies - Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) - on the basis of illegal loan guarantees issued by the previous government, under the then President, Armando Guebuza.
Credit Suisse did not undertake the normal due diligence of the Mozambican companies, and three Credit Suisse bankers (Andrew Pearse, Detelvina Subeva, and Surjan Singh) have confessed to taking bribes from the Abu Dhabi based group Privinvest, which became the sole contractor for Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.
The Policy Note points out that the Norwegian Pension Fund "is the second largest investor in Credit Suisse, and even owns the offices of the bank's headquarters in Zurich". But despite heavy criticism, the Pension Fund has not withdrawn its investments in Credit Suisse - even though the promised outcomes of the loans (such as a tuna fishing fleet) never materialised, and "most of the money is considered lost to tax havens".
The Note also criticises the Mozambican government for allowing, in 2014, the oil and gas companies Anadarko and ENI "to put all the revenues earned from the sale of natural gas extracted from the Rovuma Basin (off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado) into an offshore account. Only the amount needed to pay taxes and costs will be channelled back to the country".
The three organisations war that this arrangement "increases the opportunities for hiding profits from taxation".
"The path to achieve an equitable government in Mozambique with enough strength and will to negotiate tax conditions with big multinationals in the interest of the people, is a long one", says the note. "Mozambican civil society actors, journalists, and researchers play an important role in putting pressure on their government providing policy analysis, and creating public pressure".
The organisations believe that Norwegian investors can play a significant role by fully disclosing all relevant financial details, such as profits, taxes paid and numbers of staff employed.