Manuel Chang must surely feel special these days. He is the first former Minister of Finance in history (or at least that history recorded on the internet) whose is being sought for corruption by two countries. As explained here, Chang was arrested in South Africa December 30 at the request of American authorities who are seeking to extradite him to the United States. Two weeks later, Mozambique filed its own extradition request. Both countries want to bring him to trial for offenses arising from his alleged corrupt approval of government guarantees for loans taken out by state-owned firms while minster. The companies have defaulted on the loans, costing the impoverished nation (GNI per capita $1200) as much as $2 billion and throttling the economy.
Which country will get to prosecute Chang will turn on how South African authorities construe recondite provisions in South Africa’s extradition agreements with the United States and Mozambique. As obscure as the provisions in the two are, how South African authorities choose to interpret them will remain anything but. For their interpretation will have significant consequences for the global fight against corruption. Continue reading