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Andrew Pearse. [File photo: Bloomberg]
A former Credit Suisse Group managing director lied when he pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in the U.S., according to French-Lebanese billionaire Iskandar Safa who the plea implicated in a $2 billion-project scandal.
Andrew Pearse last month told a New York court that Safa, chief executive officer of Privinvest, knew about millions of dollars of kickbacks that the shipbuilder allegedly paid to supply the maritime multi-billion projects to Mozambique. The southeast African nation last month sued Safa in the U.K. following the guilty plea from Pearse, who left Credit Suisse in 2013 and started working for a Privinvest unit.
“Pearse suggested in his court statement that he played a role well beyond his actual level of influence at Credit Suisse,” Safa said Wednesday in a statement issued by his spokesman. “Pearse’s allegations against Privinvest and Safa are entirely unfounded” and were obtained after several months of pressure, which diminishes their value as credible evidence.
The legal action is the latest in a saga that has seen arrests including the son of Mozambique’s ex-president, former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, and two other former Credit Suisse staff. The U.S. has accused Mozambique government officials, the bankers and Privinvest of setting up the project as a front to pay themselves more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks.
Privinvest and some of its units were the sole suppliers for the project that included a tuna fishing operation, shipyards, and a coastal security system. The deals were signed in 2013 and 2014. The company and Safa have denied any wrongdoing.
By Matthew Hill
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