Mozambique: Most 'Hidden Debts' Appeals Rejected

Mozambique debt.

Maputo — The Maputo Higher Appeals Court has mostly thrown out the attempts by those accused of various crimes arising from the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" to have the charges against them quashed.

20 people have been charged, and a dispatch from the Appeals Court maintained the charges against 19 of them. Only in one case, that of Marcia Namburete, did the Court find that there were doubts about her involvement in the fraudulent scheme, and ordered her release.

The term "hidden debts" refers to the illicit loans of over two billion US dollars obtained by three fraudulent, security-linked companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014. The banks lent the money on the basis of illegal loan guarantees, issued by the government of the day, under the then President, Armando Guebuza.

Three of the Credit Suisse bankers involved in negotiating the loan have confessed to receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Privinvest, the Abu Dhabi based group which became the sole contractor for the three companies.

Marcia Namburete is the wife of businessman Sergio Namburete who set up the company SEN-Consulting and Investments in 2014, which, according to the prosecution, signed a contract with Privinvest to receive 877,000 euros (about 988,000 dollars), which was an illicit payment to Ines Moiane, President Guebuza's former secretary.

From that transaction, Sergio Namburete allegedly received a large "thank you" in the shape of 127,500 euros, and then transferred 50,000 euros to his wife.

But the Appeals Court maintained the charges against Namburete himself, and the 18 other accused. These include Ndambi Guebuza, the oldest son of the former President, Gregorio Leao, the former head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), and Antonio do Rosario, the SISE officer who became chairperson of all three fraudulent companies.

No date has yet been set for a trial, perhaps because one key figure, Guebuza's Finance Minister, Manuel Chang, is not in the country. Chang was detained at Johannesburg airport on 29 December 2018, on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the United States. US prosecutors hope to try Chang on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud.

Chang has been fighting extradition to the US for almost 18 months. Mozambican prosecutors want him extradited to Maputo, and the final decision is in the hands of the South African Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola.

The Attorney-General's Office has opened a separate case ten people including Chang. The full list of those accused in this case has not been released, but it includes six Mozambicans and four foreigners.

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