Rain again washes away Elisa's home in central Mozambique - Lusa
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Two of the owners of the Maputo architectural company, Arquitech, Italmar Simoes Pereira, and her husband Alexandre Ferreira, on Friday testified to the Maputo City Court about the work they had done for various real estate projects owned by Angela Leao, the wife of Gregorio Leao, the former general director of the national security service, SISE.
Angela and Gregorio Leao are two of the main accused in the case of Mozambique’s “hidden debts”. The prosecution believes that Angela Leao’s extensive real estate portfolio was paid for by bribes from the Abu Dhabi based group, Privinvest.
Italmar Pereira had begun to testify on 29 November, but the trial had to be adjourned because Angela Leao fainted in court, and had to be taken to hospital.
When Pereira resumed on Friday, she and her husband gave exhaustive details of their work for Leao, for her sister, Mbanda Henning, and for the man Leao often used as her contractor, Fabiao Mabunda.
The picture emerged of a wide range of buildings designed, mostly in Maputo, but also in Marracuene and Quelimane. Arquitech did much of the design and inspection work, but the construction itself was mostly in the hands of Mabunda and his company MMocambique Construcoes.
Pereira and her husband gave few details about how Angela Leao financed her buildings. Pereira said Arquitech received 50,000 dollars for designing a project for 14 houses in the Maputo suburb of Costa do Sul. One document she had seen put the total cost of this project at 2.5 million dollars.
Initially Pereira believed that this work was for Mbanda Henning, the putative owner of the 14 houses. But then she found that much of the money came from Angela Leao, who demanded that the entire project be reshaped for ten houses rather than 14.
Alexandre Ferreira said Arqitech had problems with Mabunda because of the quality of the work done by MM Construcoes, and with Leao herself because she was continually altering projects. This affected relations with the municipal authorities who approved the projects and had issued licences.
During her own testimony, Leao had refused to talk about her property dealings, When, in September, judge Efigenio Baptista asked her about houses she had purchased, apparently with Privinvest money, Leao said “I am not going to speak about my private life here”.
She complained that at earlier stages in the investigation, the prosecutors had always asked about her real estate dealings, and not about the hidden debts. The judge denied that any such distinction could be made. The public prosecutor, he pointed out, believed that the money used to buy the houses came from the debts, and so the court wanted to find out the source of her funds.
The money for Leao went via an account in Fabiao Mabunda’s name, and the prosecution case is that this money was, in reality, a large bribe (at least 9.5 million dollars) intended for Gregorio and Angela Leao.