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The former chairperson of the Mozambican government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), Setina Titosse, and the woman who was once her personal assistant, Milda Cossa, swapped accusations in the Maputo City Court on Wednesday.
Both are key accused in the case of the gigantic fraud which saw 170 million meticais (about 5.6 million US dollars at the exchange rate of the time) disappear from the coffers of the FDA between 2012 and 2015. The court confronted them in an attempt to resolve contradictions in the evidence they had given in September. But they both stuck to their stories.
Cossa said that Titosse had insisted that she collect the bank cards from her sister Binaia Manganhe, and her brothers Gerson and Dercio, who had all opened accounts at the BCI, the country’s second largest commercial bank, to which money drained from the FDA for non-existent livestock projects was to be sent.
According to Cossa, Titosse wanted the bank cards so that the three siblings could not “waste” the money deposited in their accounts.
Cossa said that, as the FDA money entered the accounts, Titosse ordered Cossa to transfer it to other accounts, the numbers of which she supplied.
“In order to control the amounts, Setina said I should keep the bank cards”, recalled Cossa. “Setina gave me, in her own house, Binaia’s card. We used the cards depending on her needs, particularly in the shops where we made purchases”.
“The greatest beneficiary of all the money that entered the accounts of my brothers and sister was Setina Titosse”, accused Cossa.
She said the FDA money was to allow Binaia, Gerson and Dercio to breed cattle – even though they did not own a single cow between them. Cossa said that in reality the money was intended for Titosse, and there was nothing left over for livestock.
Titosse claimed it was Cossa herself who suggested collecting the bank cards from her brothers, since she did not trust them with money.
“I always used my own cards for my purchases”, she said, “so I didn’t instruct her to use her brothers’ cards for any payment”.
She admitted that money from the FDA did reach her hands, to pay for cattle that would be supplied from her own company – but admitted that some of the would-be beneficiaries had not yet received any animals at all.
So here was the head of a state institution openly admitting that money from that institution was channelled to buy livestock from a company which she owned.
Titosse said she had helped Cossa’s brothers “because she asked me to, saying that they were suffering”.
Judge Alexandre Samuel has now adjourned the trial until 1 November, when experts from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Administrative Tribunal will give evidence about the reports and accounts of the FDA.Source: AIM