Nearly 5 years after he was arrested at a South African airport, Mozambique’s former finance minister has misplaced a last-ditch court docket attraction and faces extradition to the United States over a $2 billion corruption scandal associated to loans to Mozambican state-owned corporations.
U.S. prosecutors allege that Manuel Chang, Mozambique’s finance minister from 2005 to 2015, was concerned in a scheme that finally defrauded American and worldwide buyers. The enormous sums of cash leant by worldwide banks to Mozambique — and assured by the Mozambique authorities — had been meant for a collection of maritime tasks however disappeared in bribes, kickbacks and different unlawful funds, it is alleged.
Chang is accused of receiving about $17 million in bribes in the “hidden debts” scandal. He was indicted in the Eastern District Court of New York in 2018.
The greater than $2 billion was meant to be for the acquisition of naval vessels, the constructing and upkeep of shipyards and numerous different tasks to assist the nation’s fishing business, however had been by no means used for these functions, in accordance to the allegations. The scandal precipitated a monetary disaster in Mozambique. When the loans had been disclosed in 2016, the International Monetary Fund withdrew its assist for the southern African nation.
Chang has been held in jail in South Africa since December 2018, when South African police arrested him on the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on the request of U.S. authorities earlier than he took a flight to Dubai.
He introduced quite a few court docket instances and appeals in an try to keep away from extradition to the U.S.
Chang ran out of authorized choices in South Africa when the nation’s apex Constitutional Court denied functions from him and the Mozambican authorities to attraction towards a decrease court docket’s ruling that he should be extradited to the U.S.
Chang and the Mozambican authorities had been arguing that he ought to be extradited to Mozambique.
The Constitutional Court made the ruling on Wednesday and offered a replica of the judgment to the AP on Thursday. In its judgment, the court docket stated permission to attraction towards a ruling ordering Chang’s extradition to the U.S. “must be refused” as a result of there was a “lack of reasonable prospects of success.”
A Mozambican civil society group, the Forum de Monitoria do Orcamento (FMO), supported Chang’s extradition to the U.S., arguing in court docket that he was unlikely to face actual justice in his dwelling nation.
In December, a number of others accused in the scandal had been convicted and sentenced in Mozambique. They included Ndambi Guebuza, the son of former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail for illegally receiving an estimated $33 million from the corrupt dealings.
Ten different individuals had been discovered responsible on related fees and had been all sentenced to greater than 10 years in jail.
South Africa’s Department of Justice and Chang’s attorneys didn’t instantly reply to questions from the AP about when Chang may be extradited to the U.S.
In 2021, Swiss financial institution Credit Suisse agreed to pay a minimum of $475 million to British and American authorities to settle allegations of bribery and kickbacks associated to the financial institution’s involvement in the loans.