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The trial began in Maputo on Tuesday of Setina Titosse, former chairperson of the Mozambican government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), and 27 others, accused of stealing about 170 million meticais (2.8 million US dollars, at today’s exchange rate, but worth much more when the crimes were committed).
Prosecutor Joao Nhane accused Titosse and her accomplices of a total of 355 crimes (including active corruption, passive corruption, fraud, embezzlement, abuse of office, undue payment of remunerations, money laundering, and membership of a criminal association).
At the heart of the prosecution case are 80 suspect bank transfers, and 30 of these concern the fraudulent removal of money from the FDA’s account. The accused, added Nhane, used 40 bank accounts in their fraudulent scheme, which lasted for about two years.
The prosecution is based on a lengthy investigation by the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC). The GCCC documents date the start of the fraud to July 2012 when Titosse authorized lines of credit for small and medium livestock companies. The scheme was proposed by co-defendant Brasilino Salvador, head of the FDA livestock department at the time.
Titosse, the prosecution said, used this scheme as a way of appropriating FDA funds. She invited relatives and acquaintances to submit projects that would use these lines of credit. But the projects proposed were all fake. “The truth is that the money was never used for any agricultural project”, declared Nhane.
The accused used ten companies, one of them Spanish, but the rest Mozambican, to drain part of the stolen money. The companies are mostly commercial, but they received FDA money that was supposed to be used in livestock breeding.
The fraudulent projects accounted for about 107 million meticais of the stolen money. Much of the rest went on illegal payments to FDA staff. Titosse ordered bonuses, equivalent to an extra month’s wages, to be paid to FDA employees on public holidays, such as Independence Day (25 June), Victory Day (7 September) and Peace and Reconciliation Day (4 October). Thus in September, a month which has two public holidays, each FDA employee would receive a pay packet containing three times his normal wage.
Despite the voluminous evidence collected by the GCCC, Titosse told reporters that she considers herself “very innocent”
“Everything needs facts and proof”, she declared. “There are some things they’re not saying. They haven’t got the proof”.Source: AIM
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