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O País / Attorney-General of Mozambique, Beatriz Buchili, addressing parliament this morning
Acts of corruption are known to have cost the Mozambican state 459.2 million meticais (around seven million US dollars, at current exchange rates) in 2016, according to Attorney-General Beatriz Buchili.
Giving her annual report to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday, Buchili said that, during prosecutors’ investigations into crime of corruption, 20.6 million meticais and 240,000 US dollars had been seized, as well as 11 buildings and eight vehicles.
During the year, 957 alleged cases of corruption entered the central and provincial anti-corruption offices. Added to 278 cases carried over from 2015, the anti-corruption prosecutors were handling a total of 1,235 cases.
Charges were brought in 493 cases, Buchili said, and in 114 cases there was insufficient evidence to press charges. In 36 cases no crime at all had been committed, while 59 cases were considered not to fall under the powers of the anti-corruption offices, and were remitted to the provincial attorneys’ offices. That left 533 cases still under investigation as 2017 began.
Turning to the best known corruption scandals, Buchili confirmed that three people are regarded as suspects in the case of the 800,000 dollar bribe paid by the Brazilian company Embraer to ensure that Mozambique Airlines (LAM) purchased two Embraer aircraft in 2009.
She did not give any names – but in Embraer’s own confessions last year, given to Brazilian and United States prosecutors, the company said the bribe was demanded by the then chairperson of LAM, Jose Viegas, and that it was paid via a shell company registered in Sao Tome and Principe, set up by Mateus Zimba, then the Mozambican representative of the South African petro-chemical company, Sasol. The bribe was paid via an account in Portugal.
Buchili said that, given the international ramifications of the scandal, her office has been working with its counterparts in Brazil, the US, Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe.
A second major scandal involved officials of the government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), including its former chairperson, Setina Titosse, who are accused of stealing over 167 million meticais of public money. They had invented agricultural projects which in reality did not exist, but which siphoned off the money. Buchili said that in this case 27 people have been charged with offences including corruption, abuse of office and money laundering.
As for the loans obtained from European banks (mainly Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia) by the security-related companies Ematum, Proindicus and MAM, using guarantees issued illicitly by the previous government under President Armando Guebuza, Buchili repeated what is already well-known – namely that the deadline for the independent audit into the three companies by the London office of the company Kroll Associates has been extended to 28 April, due to the complexity of the material.
Kroll, she said, was collecting information on the loans from banks, suppliers “and other relevant institutions” in Mozambique and abroad.
Buchili urged the Assembly to pass a new law on the recovery of asset from criminals. Given the damage caused to the state by corruption and embezzlement, “the recovery of assets is an imperative for the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, she said. “We have to strengthen our capacity to seek out assets illicitly diverted from the state”.
“We cannot allow crime to be a source of enrichment”, said Buchili, “and so we must take away from offenders all the benefits resulting from illicit behavior, to compensate the victims, compensate the State or annul the benefits of crime”.
The Attorney-General also revealed that the majority of senior figures in the state apparatus are not making the declarations of their income and assets which is obligatory under the Law on Public Probity.
In 2016 there were 6,757 state officials who should have made these declarations, but only 44 per cent of them did so. The Attorney-General’s Office is in contact with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to take measures against officials who do not declare their assets. These measures could include fines and suspension of their wages.Source: AIM
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