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FILE: Judge William Kuntz. [File photo: New York Post]
The defence team of Jean Boustani, the prime suspect in Mozambique’s hidden debt case, called on the United States Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Saturday to stop federal prosecutors introducing further evidence, following the introduction of 60,000 new documents over the preceding week, Lusa News Aegncy reports
Jean Boustani is the main defendant in the trial starting on Tuesday in New York concerning alleged economic crimes which supposedly cost Mozambique more than US$2.2 billion (two billion euros).
At the last pre-trial preparatory conference on Saturday, Boustani’s lawyers said they were having difficulty “digesting” the amount of evidence prosecutors are still introducing, with 60,000 new documents last week, despite declaring themselves “fully prepared” for the trial.
The potentially incriminating documents introduced by prosecutors already total one million pages.
The judge, William Kuntz, said he would make a decision after holding an extraordinary consultation on this matter with lawyers and prosecutors.
According to the defence, many documents are “incomprehensible” and have no relevance to the case, stating that “the most appropriate” course of action would be for prosecutors to indicate which documents they would actually use.
Advocates in the case also object to some documents being made public, as they include “sensitive information” on bank accounts and money transfers.
The final pre-trial conference also allowed Judge William Kuntz to explain the jury selection procedures due to start on Tuesday, and which will elect 12 jurors and eight substitutes from 130 candidates.
The first formal trial session is scheduled for 09:30 on Wednesday 16th in New York (14:30 Lisbon time), and judge Kuntz has ruled that the trial will hold oral sessions every working day (Monday to Friday) until completion.
Prosecutors on Saturday estimated that the trial would last four weeks, but the defence countered that it was an “unrealistic” estimate, and that it would take more like six weeks, given that the government has put forward a list of 37 potential witnesses who could be giving testimony.
The case investigates a fraud, corruption and money laundering scheme that unlawfully and covertly added more than US$2.2 million (two billion euros) to Mozambique’s public debt, causing a financial and economic crisis in the country and the suspension of donor support.
In the eyes of US judicial organs, the main suspect in creating the corruption scheme is Lebanese national Jean Boustani, who was acting for Privinvest, with the help of the company’s chief financial officer, Najib Allam, and the chief executive of the banking group Credit Suisse Global Financing Group, Englishman Surjan Singh, who has already pleaded guilty.
The US justice accusations also involve former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang, who allegedly authorised illegal lending to companies without telling the Mozambican government or the country’s then-president Armando Guebuza, and who has been held in South Africa at the request of the US since last December.
The United States has also charged Teófilo Nhangumele, acting on behalf of the Office of the President of the Republic, and António do Rosário, who ran the fisheries (Ematum), maritime safety and maintenance (Proindicus and MAM) companies and worked for Mozambique’s State Information and Security Service (SISE).
Other alleged Credit Suisse conspirators include Bulgarian Detelina Subeva, vice president of the Global Financing Group, and New Zealander Andrew Pearse, former director of the Investment Bank and director of the Finance Group.Source: Lusa
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