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The FBI and the US Department of Justice are investigating the banks involved in Mozambique’s ‘hidden debts’. But, as a sovereign entity, the Mozambican government is not obliged to cooperate, and economist says.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI and the US Department of Justice are investigating three banks involved in Mozambican hidden debts: Credit Suiss, VTB and BNP. But Kroll’s independent audit of these debts lacks information on some important points and the Mozambican authorities are refusing to provide any information.
The US investigation has been underway for about a year. What interpretations can be made of this initiative? DW Africa interviewed the Mozambican economist Tomás Tibana.
DW Africa: What is the meaning of this investigation?
Tomás Tibana: At this moment, it has a particular meaning. Above all, because we know that there are still gaps in the Kroll audit that need to be addressed. These shortcomings result from the obstruction of the audit by Mozambican authorities.
DW Africa: Can it be understood that parties that have refused to provide important information may be obliged to do so this time?
TT: On the one hand, the external parts, those banks, yes. By the standards of the markets where they operate, yes. These external parties will have to provide information as they operate in those markets – otherwise they will be suspended. There are sanctions in this regard and they should therefore cooperate with regulators. On the other hand, the internal part, ours, should have problems. If these entities collaborate with the regulators of those markets with the information they omitted here, it means that the individuals here will be exposed. But this also depends on how long the investigation take to be judged, internally, or by the courts there. Ultimately, a part of the truth that may have been hidden by those here – if indeed they are in the possession of these banks – will be discovered by the regulators, because they will present all the pieces.
DW Africa: But how would Mozambique be affected?
TT: International regulators – external, from other jurisdictions – cannot compel Mozambique. Unless, in certain respects, operators in Mozambique are bound by such sanctions. For example, banks that may have transacted with others and are approached by regulators to give their share in the story. Mainly, taking into account that they are international banks in Mozambique, they may even have problems with regulators as they operate in these markets. As for the government, as a sovereign entity, these regulators’ remit is out of the question.
DW Africa: The fact that Mozambique is involved in a situation that is not transparent will not continue to impede or hinder foreign investments that it needs so much?
TT: Mozambique has become a ‘friend’ to states such as North Korea and China in terms of behaviour and is increasingly allied with them. At this moment, we see that Mozambique should not give up this process – and has allies to survive a few more years. For example, in the general account of the Mozambican state, two billion in debt relates to China. There is a lot of money coming in from this Asian country that is not known about. Therefore, they must keep up with the help of those governments that take advantage of this situation – and without blinking, without worrying about it.Source: Deutsche Welle