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Mozambique: Hidden Debts - No Evidence That Presidents Nyusi Or Guebuza Took Money From Privinvest

30 SEPTEMBER 2021

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

Maputo — Maputo, 30 Sep (AIM) - The reason that neither President Filipe Nyusi, nor his predecessor, Armando Guebuza, are facing charges in relation to the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" is that prosecutors have not found any evidence that either of them took money from the Abu Dhabi based group Privinbest, according to judge Efigenio Baptista, speaking at the Maputo City Court on Thursday.

Baptista thus answered repeated complaints from Gregorio Leao, former head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE). that he is the only member of the Joint Command of the Defence and Security Forces from the period when the debts were contracted (2013-2014) who is on trial.

"It shouldn't just be me", he declared on Thursday. "We had a hierarchy. I was just a member of the Joint Command. Other people should be here".

The scandal arises from the loans of over 2.2 billion US dollars that three fraudulent, security-related companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), obtained from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia on the basis of illicit loan guarantees issued by the Guebuza government.

Those guarantees turned the hidden loans into hidden debts, since when the three companies went bankrupt, the Mozambican state became liable for repaying the money.

Privinvest was the main beneficiary. The banks sent the loan money, not to the company offices in Maputo, but to Privinvest, which was the sole contractor for the companies. Privinvest then sent Mozambique fishing boats, patrol vessels, radar systems and other assets that were grossly overpriced. The independent audit of Proindicus, Ematum and MAM in 2017 showed that Privinvest over-invoiced the assets by more than 700 million dollars, which ensured that plenty of money was available for paying bribes and kickbacks,

According to Leao, the Joint Command took the key decisions leading to the establishment of the three companies, but he did not see why he should be singled out. Guebuza had chaired the Joint Command and its other key members were Nyusi (who was then defence minister), and the then Interior Minister, Alberto Mondlane.

Baptista said the question was one of following the money. Prosecutors had gone through the finances of the members of the Joint Command in great detail. The finances of the entire Guebuza family, and the companies they own, had been screened, and the only evidence found was against Ndambi Guebuza, the former President's oldest son.

Ndambi Guebuza has not denied it - indeed, he told the court he had gone into business with senior Privinvest official Jean Boustani (although he refused to give any details of this business). Other evidence shown in court indicates that he took a Privinvest bribe of 33 million dollars.

But there was nothing in the bank accounts of his father, of his mother Maria da Luz Guebuza, of his brother Mussumboluco, or of his late sister, Valentina, to suggest that they had taken any money from Privinvest.

It was the same story with Mondlane and with Nyusi - their accounts, and those of their immediate families had been investigated, said Baptista, and not a single transfer from Privinvest had been found.

Of course, there could be transactions that are not shown on the bank accounts. So Baptista urged anyone who has evidence that Presidents Guebuza or Nyusi did take money from Privinvest to take the proof to the Attorney-General's Office.

Privinvest has repeatedly boasted that it did indeed bribe Nyusi - although it did not, or course, use such an unpleasant word as "bribe", preferring to call the payment a "political contribution". Boustani mentioned the alleged payment to Nyusi at his trial in New York in 2019, and on the Privinvest spreadsheet detailing the illicit payments Nyusi was given the code name of "New Man".

But Boustani's word and a Privinvest spreadsheet do not count as evidence. If Privinvest has genuine evidence that it transferred money to Nyusi, then it knows what to do - it can submit copies of the relevant bank documents to the PGR.

"There has been plenty of opportunity to produce evidence", Baptista pointed out.

Leao protested that there were no transfers from Privinvest to his bank accounts either - but the prosecution argues that is because the money went via his wife, Angela Leao, and her close associate, businessman Fabiao Mabunda.

The prosecution case, Baptista said, is that "Mabunda received the money from Privinvest, and Angela Leao told him how to use it. That is why you (Gregorio Leao) are here. The prosecution believes your wife was acting on your behalf".



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