By Dan Byrne for AMLi
A FORMER FINANCE MINISTER in Mozambique has been charged with money laundering over a loan scandal which has seen hundreds of millions of dollars go missing.
Mozambique authorities announced that provisional charges for laundering, embezzlement and abuse of office has been brought against Manuel Chang, who served as finance minister for a decade between 2005 and 2015.
Mr Chang is alleged to have orchestrated over $2 billion in state-guaranteed debt over a series of loans during his tenure, Reuters reports.
The money was tied to the purchase of state assets such as fishing trawlers which were not legal, seaworthy, or valued at anywhere near $2 billion in total.
Mr Chang also authorised that the money be transferred not to official government accounts at the state-owned bank, but to a private account in Abu Dhabi.
Much of the remaining money – amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars – is now understood to be missing, while it has also emerged that some loans were kept secret from fellow ministers during Mr Chang’s time in office.
Three employees of the financial services group Credit Suisse have already pleaded guilty in the United States to charges of bribery and fraud in connection with the case.
Three more – employees of Mozambique’s central bank – are now also expected to face charges alongside Mr Chang.
Chang has been held in custody in South Africa since 2018, and both the US and Mozambique have sought his extradition for most of that time.
Previously, South Africa had refused to extradite him to Mozambique on the grounds that no formal charges against him existed there. The Mozambique attorney general temporarily dropped the extradition request earlier this year.
Mr Chang has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection to the loans he authorised. His legal representative said that he had not been informed of the new charges and would be making no further comment.
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