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File photo / Headquarters of the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC)
Mozambique’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has charged 27 people over alleged involvement in the theft of 170 million meticais (about 2.3 million US dollars, at current exchange rates) from the government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), according to a GCCC press release issued on Monday.
The GCCC ordered the arrest of the former chairperson of the FDA board, Setina Titosse, in September, charging her with corruption, embezzlement, abuse of office and trafficking in influence.
The GCCC accuses Titosse and her accomplices of setting up phoney agricultural and livestock projects, which received funding from the FDA. Since most of the projects did not exist, the money was pocketed by Titosse and her group, the GCCC alleged.
Some of the livestock projects were partly implemented, through the acquisition of cattle. But once the money was deposited in the accounts of the livestock farmers, between 50 and 70 per cent of it was transferred to Titosse.
When the FDA hired services, the companies that won the tenders did so because they paid bribes to Titosse. The tenders were crooked, since the bribes were negotiated before Titosse announced the winning bid and signed the contract.
The latest GCCC release makes it clears that this scandal was on a much vaster scale than believer earlier. 39 people were suspected of involvement, including 12 state employees, 21 workers from the private sector, and six self-employed people.
27 of these have now been charged, including Titosse. The others includes several FDA managers, but the release does not name them. The charge sheet has been expanded, and they are now accused of corruption, abuse of office, money laundering, payment of undue remunerations, fraud and membership of a criminal association.
Of the 12 other suspects, one has died, and prosecutors did not find sufficient evidence to charge 11.
The GCCC has also ordered the seizure of property believed to have been purchased with the money stolen from the FDA. These goods included eight buildings in Maputo city and province, two buildings in Gaza provinces, seven vehicles, an unspecified number of head of cattle, and some money deposited in Maputo banks.
A second GCCC release said that investigations into alleged crimes committed by senior managers at the state insurance company, EMOSE, did not turn up sufficient evidence to charge anyone.
Three managers were investigated, on the basis of media reports, but allegations of theft and corruption were not substantiated.
However, the GCCC found other irregularities. One of the suspects had been living for ten years, with no legal basis, in a Maputo house belonging, not to EMOSE, but to a public institution in the fisheries sector, which the GCCC did not name.
The GCCC ordered the suspect to leave the house, he did so, and it has now been returned to its rightful owner.
The GCCC also found that the suspects, who no longer work at EMOSE, had failed to make the final declaration of their assets, in violation of the Law on Public Probity. Under this law, all senior figures in the public administration must declare their assets annually, and make a final declaration when they leave office. The GCCC has informed the commission that receives and verifies the declarations of this violation.
There were also irregularities that might constitute financial crimes in the hiring of services to provide computer equipment for EMOSE. This matter has been sent to prosecutors who work with the Administrative Tribunal, the body that checks the legality of public expenditure, for further investigation.Source: AIM