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The judge presiding over the trial of Jean Boustani in New York said on Tuesday that the case – linked to Mozambique’s so-called ‘hidden debts’ – will finish on November 22.
“One way or another, I assure you, the trial ends on November 22,” said William Kuntz II, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, after advising lawyers and prosecutors not to be repetitive in questions to witnesses.
This is the first time that an assurance about the end of the trial was given by the judge, who has so far banned any question related to speculation about possible verdicts.
At a hearing before the trial began, prosecutors suggested the trial would last four weeks, , while Jean Boustani’s legal defence team replied that it would take six. The judge made no comments at the time.
Jean Boustani, a negotiator for Privinvest, a UAE-based naval engineering firm, is charged with economic fraud, bribery and money laundering.
Privinvest was the provider of vessels and coastal protection services to Mozambican state-owned companies Ematum, MAM and Proindicus, which borrowed millions of dollars with Mozambique government guarantees.
After missing several payments, Mozambique owes, more than US$2.2 billion (€2 billion), it was disclosed in 2016.
Since the trial began on October 15, William Kuntz has been remarking that the 16-person jury is “smart” and “can read”, with no need for lawyers or prosecutors to go over details several times.
The trial has run every week day since October 15. So far, more than ten people have testified, including bankers, financial advisers and accountants.
Witness depositions in the case consist of answering questions from prosecutors and defence lawyers about documents, loan processes, banking services and messages sent by the defendants, among other subjects.
As a way of “getting the process going”, as he put it, the judge was firm in recommending more agility in the questioning.
The longest interrogation was that of Andrew Pearse, the defendant who has pleaded guilty and is collaborating with the prosecution.
Pearse is a former Credit Suisse banker and founder of Palomar, who is indicted for paying bribes to various Mozambican citizens, in alleged conjunction with Jean Boustani, who represented Privinvest.Source: Lusa
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