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SA Jurist: “Maputo Process against Manuel Chang is Inconceivable”

SA Jurist: “Maputo Process against Manuel Chang is Inconceivable”

The South African academic and jurist André Thomashausen considered this Tuesday, 29 November, “Kafkian” the latest process of the Mozambican Public Ministry against former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, arrested for four years in South Africa at the request of the United States.

“It is Kafkian and inconceivable, one does not understand this alleged corruption with [Brazilian construction company] Odebrecht, it has nothing to do with the hidden debt, it is a separate issue. It is possible that there have been some favours, it is another process, but insignificant in the context of the hidden debt process that has a huge amount of two billion euros missing and unaccounted for and, on the instruction of the then Finance Minister Manuel Chang, paid by the banks, which had made the loan to a private account in the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, belonging to a private company. An enormous volume of loan contracted by the State of Mozambique which is then paid into a private bank account,” Thomashausen told Lusa.

The recent indictment is part of a second criminal corruption trial Manuel Chang is facing in Mozambique, and is related to alleged undue payments made by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to the former Finance Minister and three other defendants, including former Transport and Communications Minister Paulo Zucula, according to a statement from the Mozambican Public Ministry, to which Lusa had access.

“In these terms, at the end of the instruction, on 31 August 2022, in the form of a common process, Manuel Chang was charged with the crimes of passive corruption for illicit act, economic participation in business, abuse of office or function and money laundering,” the statement from the Mozambican Public Ministry said.

The Central Anti-Corruption Office (GCCC) did not specify the amounts involved in the investigation.

Manuel Chang is the target of two competing extradition requests – from the United States of America (USA) and Mozambique – and has been detained in South Africa since December 2018 under a US arrest warrant.

The extradition to the United States of Manuel Chang, ordered by a South African court in November 2021, is still not “executable” while a request for appeal by the Mozambican government is pending in the South African justice system, the South African lawyer told Lusa.

In the view of the retired professor of the University of South Africa (UNISA), the recent accusation of the Mozambican Public Ministry against Manuel Chang will not influence the process of extradition of the former leader to the USA.

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“We are at the end of the race, it is the last petition they can still make, this appeal to the Supreme Court to be allowed an appeal against the judgment of the Gauteng Court, which ordered his extradition to the US,” underlined André Thomashausen, who is a specialist in international and comparative law.

In November last year, the Mozambican government requested permission from South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein, in the centre of the country, to appeal against the decision of the Gauteng High Court, and simultaneously submitted a request for direct access to the Constitutional Court in Pretoria, which in its view “is in the best position to review the decision” of the Gauteng regional court.

However, in June this year, the Constitutional Court of South Africa rejected the request by Mozambique’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to appeal the extradition of former Finance Minister Manuel Chang to the US. The SCA has not yet ruled.

The former Mozambican ruler, detained in South Africa since December 2018 at the request of the US, is allegedly involved in the case of hidden debts, of over US$2.2 billion, contracted between 2013 and 2014 with the British subsidiaries of investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB by Mozambican state-owned companies Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.

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