Mozambique’s former Finance Minister, Manuel Chang, is set to be handed over to the FBI by South African authorities to face charges of fraud and corruption in the United States.
The official announcement of his extradition was made by South African police, who confirmed that Chang will be transferred into FBI custody for legal proceedings in the US.
This decision comes after Mozambique’s appeal against Chang’s extradition was rejected by the country’s highest court.
Chang has been in jail in South Africa since December 2018, awaiting trial for his involvement in the “tuna bond” scandal, which involved a staggering $2 billion.
The tuna bond scandal has brought Africa’s largest corruption case back into the spotlight. The allegations suggest that the funds were used to purchase a large tuna factory and other ventures, earning it the moniker of the “tuna bond” scandal.
This corruption scandal had devastating effects on Mozambique’s economy, leading to a collapse in various sectors. The country experienced a significant loss in the value of its currency, a surge in inflation, and the withdrawal of foreign donors.
As the finance minister at the time, Chang was responsible for overseeing Mozambique’s financial matters when the country committed to backing over $2 billion in undisclosed loans obtained by state-owned companies.
These loans were intended for maritime projects, including the establishment of a state tuna fishing fleet, but instead had catastrophic consequences for Mozambique’s economy. The loans directly contributed to the country’s inability to repay its sovereign debt, resulting in a default.
Moreover, there have been numerous allegations of bribery, concealment, and embezzlement, with estimates suggesting that at least $500 million was misappropriated.
The repercussions of these ill-fated loans were severe for Mozambique. The country found itself unable to fulfill its financial obligations, leading to a default on its sovereign debt and causing widespread economic distress for its people.
According to estimates from Mozambique’s Centre for Public Integrity and the Norwegian Chr Michelsen Institute, the fraud resulting from the collapse of the tuna bond in 2016 led to a loss of $11 billion. This amount is equivalent to Mozambique’s entire gross domestic product for that year.
In the aftermath of the scandal, Credit Suisse, the institution responsible for organizing the debt, was fined $475 million. Additionally, ongoing legal proceedings were initiated in London, where the Mozambican government sought to invalidate the debts. However, it is worth noting that the government did not disclose the extent of President Filipe Nyusi’s awareness of the loans during his tenure as defense minister at that time.
In May, Manuel Chang lost his battle against extradition to the US, almost five years after his arrest in Johannesburg on fraud charges related to the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from loans approved by him in 2013.
Throughout the proceedings, Chang has consistently denied any wrongdoing, maintaining his innocence. His legal team in the United States intends to file a motion to dismiss the case in New York, citing a prolonged delay in bringing it to trial.
The Mozambican authorities had hoped for Chang to be tried in his home country rather than the US.
With the decision to extradite Manuel Chang to the United States, the hope is that justice will be served and those responsible for the corruption and economic collapse in Mozambique will be held accountable for their actions.
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