Mozambique files lawsuit against ex-min for over $ 2 billion in debt

MAPUTO, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – Mozambique on Monday filed provisional charges of embezzlement, money laundering and office abuse against former finance minister Manuel Chang for more than $ 2 billion in debt government guarantee borrowed during his tenure.

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

South Africa had cited the lack of formal charges in Mozambique as a problem blocking his extradition there.

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

US and Mozambican officials say hundreds of millions of dollars in loans have gone missing. Some of the loans were not disclosed publicly, prompting donors such as the International Monetary Fund to suspend support to Mozambique when they were revealed in 2016.

“The prosecutor has filed a provisional complaint against Manuel Chang and three former employees of the Bank of Mozambique,” the PGR said in a statement. He said he was still awaiting South Africa’s decision on Chang’s extradition. (Reporting by Manuel Mucari; writing by Emma Rumney; editing by Peter Graff)

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