Mozambique is counting on tuna fishing to increase tax revenue, but it may be too late
www.fsgroup.com (File photo) / Erik Prince
Blackwater Security founder Erik Prince is going into a joint venture with Ematum and told a Maputo press conference Wednesday (13 Dec) that he may later get involved in protecting Mozambique’s oil and gas assets. Prince said that by March he plans to have operating the 24 fishing boats that have been rusting in Maputo harbour since they were acquired.
Antonio do Rosario said Tuesday that Prince will also have partnerships with maritime security company ProIndicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management). (Bloomberg 12,13 Dec) Rosario has been dismissed from his security service (SISE) post, but remains head of these three SISE-controlled companies. The joint venture will be between Ematum and Prince’s Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG). https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/erik-prince-to-partner-with-mozambique-s-hidden-debt-companies
Prince told STV (13 Dec) “We know there’s a lot of illegal fishing. We hope to improve Mozambique’s capacity to protect its fisheries. We have agreements in this direction, but the details have not yet been finalized, although we are very close to doing so.”
Frontier is 20% owned by the Citic, which is Chinese state owned and the largest Chinese conglomerate. Price told the Financial Times (FT, 10 Apr 2017) that he was helping to increase trade as part of China’s Silk Road policy, “One Belt One Road”. Prince says FSG “is a logistics company, we are not a security company.” But according to the FT, critics “say Mr Prince is simply proving what many suspected all along: instead of a patriot, he is a mercenary.” The FT also notes that Prince “is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr Trump’s new education secretary.” https://www.ft.com/content/e6942960-19e9-11e7-bcac-6d03d067f81f
In a 19 December 2016 press release, Frontier said “from its inception, FSG has been focused on helping its customers operate more securely and efficiently in frontier markets. OBOR [one belt one road] focuses on connectivity, development and cooperation among countries situated primarily between the People’s Republic of China and Eurasia. FSG is positioning itself to better serve its customers in these rapidly developing markets by building new operational bases in the region, establishing a China based logistics team and developing strategic partnerships with local operators. To ensure it remains close to its customers, FSG will be opening a forward operating base in China’s Yunnan province. … Subsequently, FSG will be opening a forward operating base in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to serve businesses in the surrounding countries. These bases will provide training, communications, risk mitigation, risk assessments, information gathering, medevac and joint operations centers that coordinate security, logistics and aviation services.” https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/frontier-services-group-strategy-update-607417306.html
FSG says one of its “target markets” is East Africa. In June, Frontier signed a security services agreement with Somalia. “The project will include an integrated solution of air-land-sea logistics capabilities and advanced security management,” FSG said in a statement about the deal. (Reuters, 22 June 2017)
Prince’s previous company, Blackwater Security, made an estimated $2bn in contracts with the US government during its heyday following the September 11 attacks, when the US needed to manage huge security projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. But four Blackwater guards were eventually tried in the US and imprisoned in the aftermath of a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. (FT 10 Apr)
After selling Blackwater in 2010, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi. (FT 10 Apr) Ematum and the other two companies were the official recipients of the $2 bn secret loans, but the money went directly to Privinvest, which is also based in Abu Dhabi.
By Joseph Hanlon