Mozambique: Seychelles expands aviation cooperation
To pay its employees, ADM, the state-owned airports company, has been forced to take a bank loan, after the Maputo court froze its bank account. ADM was a major borrower from the dubious Nosso Banco (“Our Bank”) which collapsed in 2016. ADM owed the bank $275 mn, and when it failed to pay, the liquidation commission took the matter to court and succeeding in freezing the ADM bank account.
Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita blames the crisis on the failure of Nacala airport which was built in 2014 with a $125 mn export credit from Brazil and $75 mn in local bank loans, but which has hardly ever been used. Brazilian contractor Odebrecht admitted to the US Department of Justice last year that it paid $900,000 bribes for the contract to build the white elephant airport.
Three people have now been charged by the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) including two of former President Armando Guebuza’s ministers. Former Transport Minister Paulo Zucula is being held in preventive detention and is charged with accepting $315,000 in bribes. Former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, still in detention in South Africa as part of competing extradition requests, is charged with taking a bribe of $250,000. Emiliano Finocchi, an Italian-Mozambican architect and businessman, is also charged but has been released on bail.
Meanwhile charges of “criminal association” were dropped early this month against three people charged with taking bribes from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, but the other charges have been retained. Embraer paid an $800,000 bribe to ensure the sale of two aircraft to LAM, it admitted to the US Justice Department in 2016. Paulo Zucula is charged with money laundering and illegal participation in business; former LAM chair Jose Viegas is charged with illicit participation in a business, and Mateus Zimba, who Embraer identified as setting up the bribe and who agreed an inflated price for the planes to cover the cost of the bribes, is charged with money laundering. (AIM, Carta de Mocambique 1, 3 July)
Suggestions: Could a deal be organised in which the people who took bribes related to the $2bn secret debt agreed to form an offshore Seychelles company to buy airports company ADM, and then use their bribe money to pay off ADM’s debts.
The Kenyan option upheld by the Court of Appeal there on 10 May could be made to work in Mozambique. The ruling held that all unexplained funds and assets belong to the state. The Kenya Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is now going after rags-to-riches secret millionaires such as police officers whose wealth far exceeds their salaries. (Daily Nation, 26 May)
By Joseph HanlonSource: News, Reports & Clippings