Manuel Chang is the former finance minister of Mozambique. He has been detained in South Africa under an American issued international arrest warrant, on alleged charges of fraudulent loans. It is thought that Chang may have received over USD 12 million as a bribe, or a thank you, in exchange for his signature on a loan deal connected with the tuna fishing fleet and maritime surveillance project.
In addition, over 2 billion USD was allegedly loaned to state companies without the knowledge of the Mozambique government.
As a serving member of the Mozambique government, Chang has benefited from immunity, and although there have been several requests for extradition, from both his own country and the US, he has remained immune to extradition.
Immunity may be lifted this week.
Time may be running out for Chang. The Mozambican attorney general has granted permission or immunity to be lifted this week. Today Chang will appear in court in Johannesburg, with a second hearing scheduled for the 5th of February.
Many more government officials and corporates are likely to be implicated, once the truth is revealed. It appears that various state companies were given huge loans from Credit Suisse and VTP Capital. The Mozambique Government acted to guarantee the money but Parliament was never asked for, and never gave, approval. The money disappeared and there is no way for Mozambique to pay it back.
The credit was supposedly for a state fishing fleet. The plan was huge – coastal patrol boats, a dockyard, a fishing fleet. Now, international creditors have halted their payments and everybody wants to know, where is the money.
Angolan officials may be implicated too
It is not just Mozambique who are implicated. Angola made money out of the deal, also by purchasing patrol boats and coastal protection measures. But who did they work with, and how? The name Privinvest keeps popping up, the name Bousani keeps popping up, and the days ahead are sure to be bombshell days with a scandal that keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The Mozambican economy is fragile, as is their democracy. This case may well blow open the extent of corruption within the government, and corruption that has spread from one African country to another.
Chang will be tried. Whether the trial is in the US, South Africa or Mozambique remains to be seen.