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Mozambique: Accused in ‘hidden debts’ case teamed up to steal from state – prosecutor

The Mozambican public prosecutor on Monday accused the 19 defendants in the case of “hidden debts” of teaming up in a “gang” to steal from the state and leave the country in a “difficult economic situation.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office yesterday read out the indictment against the 19 defendants at the start of the trial in the main case, which is being held at Machava Maximum Security Prison, known as BO, in Maputo province in the south of the country.

“Whoever associates in a gang to steal from the State is not at the service of the State. The defendants acted in collusion, putting their private interests above the interests of the State,” said Ana Sheila Marrengula, the Public Prosecutor who read out the indictment.

The conduct of the 19 defendants, Marrengula said, siphoned off US$2.7 billion (2.3 billion euros) from the state by raising it from international banks through guarantees provided by the government.

“They all damaged the country and left it in a difficult economic situation,” the prosecutor emphasised.

The prosecution mainly targeted Armando Ndambi Guebuza, the accused and oldest son of Armando Guebuza, Mozambican head of state at the time of the facts.

According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Armando Ndambi Guebuza was the one who received the biggest share of the money embezzled from the loans mobilised with State guarantees, having pocketed 33 million dollars (28 million euros).

With the money, the former President’s eldest son bought top-of-the-range cars, some of which he gave to friends, real estate inside and outside the country and paid for leisure trips.

“Armando Ndambi Guebuza used his influence with his father to make the scheme possible and to take advantage of his wealth for himself and his associates”.

Ana Sheila Marrengula also attacked the three directors of the State Information and Security Service (SISE) accused in the case, accusing them of having also “stolen from the State”, which they were supposed to protect.

The defendants used the threats and concerns of SISE and the Government with the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to devise a scheme to pay bribes financed with money intended for the security of Mozambique’s territorial waters.

According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the various crimes the defendants committed include criminal association, influence peddling, passive corruption, money laundering, embezzlement, abuse of office or function and document forgery.

Marrengula asked for the defendants to be convicted and for the Mozambican state to be compensated for the damage caused, noting that the country is now obliged to pay back loans from which it did not benefit.

In addition to Armando Ndambi Guebuza, Inês Moiane, Armando Guebuza’s private secretary, and his former political adviser Renato Matusse are also accused.

Also accused are former SISE Director General Gregório Leão and his wife Ângela Leão, former director of economic intelligence António Carlos do Rosário and former director of the Office of Studies and Projects Cipriano Mutota.

Twelve of the 19 defendants are on provisional release, while seven are in remand awaiting trial.

The ‘hidden debts’ were contracted between 2013 and 2014 from the British subsidiaries of investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB by Mozambican state companies Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.

The loans were secretly endorsed by the Frelimo government, led by Armando Guebuza, without the knowledge of parliament and the Administrative Court.

As well as the main case, the Mozambican justice system has opened a separate case in which several other people are suspected of participating in the scheme, including former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, former directors of the Bank of Mozambique, and former executives of Credit Suisse, the bank that made the loans possible.

Legal proceedings have also been opened in the United States and England.

Source: https://clubofmozambique.com/news/mozambique-accused-in-hidden-debts-case-teamed-up-to-steal-from-state-prosecutor-lusa-199605/

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