Mozambique files charges against ex-finance minister over $2 billion debt

MOZAMBIQUE has filed provisional embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of office charges against former finance minister Manuel Chang over $2 billion in state-guaranteed debt borrowed during his term in office.

Chang has been in custody in South Africa since December 2018, where he is being sought both by Mozambique and the United States to face prosecution over the loans. Three former Credit Suisse bankers who helped arrange the loans pleaded guilty in the United States earlier this year to conspiracy charges including bribery and fraud.

South Africa had cited the absence of formal charges in Mozambique as an issue blocking his extradition there.

The charges, announced by the attorney general’s office (PGR) relate to $2 billion in state-guaranteed borrowing Chang signed off on during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister. Chang has long denied wrongdoing in the affair. His lawyer declined to comment on the provisional charges, saying he had not been informed of the development.

U.S. and Mozambique authorities say hundreds of millions of dollars of the loans went missing. Some of the loans were not publicly disclosed, prompting donors such as the International Monetary Fund to cut off support to Mozambique when they were revealed in 2016.

“The public prosecutor filed a provisional charge against Manuel Chang and three former employees of the Bank of Mozambique,” the PGR said in a statement. It said it was still awaiting South Africa’s decision on Chang’s extradition. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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