British court authorizes Privinvest to open legal case against Mozambican President

                    President Filipe Nyusi swearing in his second term on 15 January 2020

                          “Hidden debts” case involves President Filipe Nyusi

A UK court authorized the company Privinvest to open a case against Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, a reaction to the case brought by the Maputo authorities against that company in the context of the well-known “hidden debts” case.

This is the first time that Nyusi has faced legal action that could expose him to personal liability, a rare case of a British court allowing a case against a foreign Head of State.

The case goes back to the years 2013 and 2014, when the Mozambican Government gave a guarantee to loans for the execution of several projects, among them the creation of a fleet for tuna fishing.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been diverted, in gloves and bribes, according to Mozambican authorities and the American justice system.

The boats acquired and the infrastructure built under the project have rusted and the tuna fishing fleet, when it operated, will have had an insignificant performance.

Since April 2016, when the scandal was revealed by the current Mozambican finance minister, Adriano Maleiane, at a meeting of the IMF in Washington, several details began to be released, with the ex-incumbent of finance, Manuel Chang, being detained in Africa. in December 2018, at the request of the American justice system.

At stake is money laundering in American banks.

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In 2019, the Mozambican authorities filed a lawsuit against Privinvest in London in an attempt to recover loans and receive compensation.

This case and several others, including a separate case against the bank Crédit Suisse, also involved in the scandal, have been transformed into a single case, which now also includes personal action against President Filipe Nyusi.

Privinvest, based in Abu Dabhi, and the main partner of the Mozambican authorities in the process, denies wrongdoing, but acknowledges having made payments to Mozambican officials, including Filipe Nyusi, and the ruling Frelimo party.

However, he considers that they were legal contributions to the Nyusi and Frelimo election campaign and not bribes.

The shipbuilding company adds in an argument that if the payments were bribes, Nyusi and the others would also be guilty of accepting them.

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The Mozambican President, who took power in 2015 and was Minister of Defense during the period in which the case of hidden debts occurred, always denied the irregularities, having stressed that the three state-owned companies involved in the projects were not linked to the Ministry of Defense.

The Government of Mozambique has tried to revoke the state guarantee for part of the loans.

In a note sent to the Reuters agency, Privinvest wrote that “any litigation in London … must reflect the direct and personal involvement … of the former and current members of the Government (of Mozambique) itself”.

The Presidency of the Republic of Mozambique has not yet reacted.

Voice of America font

21 May, 2021


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