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South Africa To Extradite Former Mozambique Finance Minister To Home Country

FILE PHOTO: Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique, appears at a magistrates court in Kempton Park, South Africa. /Getty Images

 

South Africa will extradite former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang to his home country, its justice department said on Monday, years after he was arrested in Johannesburg over his role in Mozambique’s $2 billion debt scandal.

Chang, who denies wrongdoing, has been in custody since his 2018 arrest in South Africa at the request of the United States, which had charged Chang with crimes for his alleged involvement in $2 billion in borrowing that U.S. authorities said was fraudulent.

Mozambique, where a criminal case against 19 others accused in the scandal opened on Monday, subsequently requested Chang’s extradition, prompting a court battle over his custody that ultimately left the decision on where he should be sent in the hands of Ronald Lamola, the justice minister.

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“The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services… confirms that a decision has been taken to extradite the accused to Mozambique,” Lamola’s ministry said in its statement, adding that concerns Chang was immune from prosecution in Mozambique had been resolved.

He would now be handed over to Mozambican authorities to face charges including embezzlement, money laundering and a violation of budget laws, it said.

Chang’s lawyer did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

The charges against Chang relate to $2 billion in borrowing, guaranteed by Mozambique’s government and ostensibly raised for a project spanning tuna fishing, maritime security and shipyard development.

Hundreds of millions of dollars went missing, including in kickbacks, Mozambique and U.S. authorities say, while many of the promised benefits never materialised. Chang signed off on the loans during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister.

Mozambique remains on the hook for the borrowing, some of which it did not disclose to its parliament or donors like the International Monetary Fund. When the full extent of the borrowing was discovered, donors pulled out and its currency collapsed.
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Written by PH

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