Current and Former Mozambican Presidents, Other Higher Ups “Cleared” in Hidden Debt Scandal

Last week the presiding judge in Mozambique’s hidden debt trial made it plain that the country’s current and former presidents and other senior members of the country’s ruling party would not have to answer for their role in the hidden scandal. The massive corruption scheme has cost the impoverished nation billions and ended any hope millions of its citizens could escape a life of abject poverty.

Nineteen middle-level officials and accomplices are on trial in Maputo for accepting bribes to approve $2.1 billion in contracts to the Middle East shipbuilding company Privinvest and then taking more bribes to have the government secretly borrow the money to finance the projects. The economy tanked and poverty rates skyrocketed when the secret loans were revealed.

As he was finishing his testimony last Thursday, the General Director of the State Intelligence and Security Services, the highest ranking official on trial, complained to trial judge Efigénio Baptista, “I am here alone.” He said he was the only member of the Joint Command and the Operation Command, the inter-agency groups that cooked up the scheme, to be prosecuted.

“The former Minister of National Defense, Filipe Nyusi, and the former Minister of the Interior, Alberto Mondlane, should be answering. They were also part of the Joint Command.”

The judge explained that Nyusi, now the country’s president, and Mondlane, governor of an important province, were not charged because the prosecution had no evidence they had taken bribes.  He also helpfully went on to add that for the same reason Armando Guebuza, president when the contracts were let and the loans taken out, was not on trial. 

The above comes from the Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento reports on the trial. This one, recounting the state security director’s testimony, also helpfully reminded readers of the testimony of Jean Boustani at a 2018 trial in New York. There the Privinvest senior executive provided details about the bribes Privinvest paid Nyusi, Guebuza, and other officials not among the 19 on trial in Mozambique. Perhaps Judge Baptista and the Mozambican prosecutor have overlooked something?