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Maputo view. [File photo]
The dispatch from judge Evandra Uamusse, of the Maputo City Court, authorising a full trial of 20 suspects charged in the case of Mozambique’s “hidden debts”, gives damning details of the bribes that they allegedly received from the Abu Dhabi-based group Privinvest.
Privinvest is at the heart of the scandal. The over two billion dollars in loans from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia to the fraudulent Mozambican companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) all went directly to Privinvest. The money was supposed to pay for fishing boats and other assets.
However, the independent audit of the three companies in 2017 showed that the assets had been grossly overpriced. The investigation by American prosecutors into the fraud showed that at least 200 million dollars of the loan money had been diverted into bribes and kickbacks.
This finding is amply supported by judge Uamusse’s dispatch, quoted in some detail in the latest issue of the independent weekly “Savana”. It notes, for example, that Renato Matusse, an adviser to former President Armando Guebuza, organised a visit to the Privinvest shipyards in Abu Dhabi and France in 2013.
For this, Privinvest paid Matusse two million dollars. He used this money to buy real estate and vehicles (a Toyota Hilux and a Hyundai IX355L). To hide his connection with the vehicles, the prosecutors say, Matusse used a man named Fanuel Paunde to handle all the paperwork.
Key in setting up the fraudulent companies was Gregorio Leao, the then head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE). To hide his involvement, Leao put his wife Angela at the head of his business affairs. The judge’s dispatch says that, right from the start, she was aware of the diversion of the loan funds.
On the instructions of her husband, she held meetings with two of the other accused, Teofilo Nhangumele and Cipriano Mutota, to inform them that documentation left by representatives of Privinvest was now in her hands and that “as from that moment, she would be an intermediary in communications between them and her husband”.
The former head of SISE economic intelligence, Antonio do Rosario, became chairperson of all three companies. From the company Logistic Internacional, a member of the Privinvest group, Rosario received a bribe of over three million dollars, in two instalments. This money was transferred to the account of Walid Constucoes, hired by Rosario for architectural and building work on his home in the up-market neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte, in Boane district, just outside Maputo.
He hired the same company for other building work, including the construction of a five storey hotel, costed at 1.6 million dollars in the western city of Tete. In order to leave no evidence of Rosario’s involvement, the prosecution claims, the contracts with Walid Construcoes were not put into writing.
Several of the accused – Rosario, Guebuza’s oldest son, Ndambi, Nhangumele and SISE agent Bruno Tandane visited the Privinvest premises in the United Arab Emirates in December 2011 and January 2012. Gregorio Leao authorised that most of the expenses for this trip should be paid by SISE. The accommodation, however, was paid by Ndambi Guebuza, but later reimbursed by Privinvest.
In Abu Dhabi the group met with the Privinvest sales executive, Jean Boustani, and negotiated the bribes and kickbacks they should receive. It was agreed that Nhangumele and Langa should each receive ten million dollars, while 30 million would go to Ndambi Guebuza.
Later on, Guebuza Junior said he wanted more. Readjustments were made – the payments to Nhangumele and Langa were cut to 8.5 million dollars each, while that for Ndambi Guebuza rose to 33 million dollars.Source: AIM