Trade between China and Portuguese-speaking countries increases 3.8% from January to May
File photo / A view of Pemba port
The full scope of the MAM contract “is far wider than has been reported to date. It includes … a transfer of technology and an IP [intellectual property] licence package … a number of sites, a wide programme of logistics and maintenance support with substantial assets, … and the supply of mobile and fixed maintenance and shipbuilding facilities, a naval training school, spare parts and maintenance services for the whole fleet,” according to London-based Stuart Leasor, Managing Director of Woodstock Leasor, which “acts as the international media relations consultants for Privinvest, the main contractor in the Mozambique maritime contracts.”
Responding to Maputo media reports that nothing had happened since Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) had obtained its loan in 2014, Leasor released some additional information about the heretofore secret contract – while stressing that some parts remained confidential.
MAM plans shipyards in Maputo and Pemba port, but has so far been unable to obtain access to a site in Maputo where it plans to built boats using Privinvest technology. In the north there is significant work going on at MAM installations at the Pemba Naval School and Pemba Naval Base, including the expansion of the land area. Some instructors are on site. However, there have been delays because of the inability to obtain customs clearance for equipment and materials imported by Privinvest.
MAM has a loan of $535 mn from the Russian government owned VTB bank, for which an unusual and expensive upfront fee of $35 mn was paid (Reuters, 11 June). MAM is 98% owned by the State Security and Intelligence Service (SISE). The loan is part of a package of at least four secret loans from 2013-4 worth at least $2.4 billion which, when they became public earlier this year, caused donors to stop budget support and the IMF to suspend its loan. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that in keeping the loans secret, the Mozambique government was “clearly concealing corruption.”
MAM failed to make its first repayment, of $178 mn on 23 May. VTB CEO Andrey Kostin said the bank did not expect any significant losses from its operations in Mozambique, despite experiencing problems with a major loan, in part because it had shared the bulk of its $535m loan with undisclosed other investors. “We have a portfolio sold out on the market, so any significant losses for the bank should not be expected,” said Kostin. (Business Day Live, 17 June;
There are three main companies involved in the secret loans, all owned by SISE. They are the fishing company Ematum, MAM, and the marine security company Proindicus. Privinvest is involved with at least two of them. It is owned by French-Lebanese businessmen brothers, Akram and Iskandar Safa, and is based in Beirut and Abu Dhabi. It owns the shipyard in France which built the Ematum fishing boats. Reflecting the Russian and Middle East links, Stuart Leasor is a “senior advisor to EM, the leading Russia-focused financial communications agency, and has partnerships with FinMark Communications, one of the leading financial and corporate communications agencies focused on the Middle East.” (https://woodstockleasor.com/#