"Hidden debts": U.S. court to hear defence of main suspect
Deputy Attorney-General Angelo Matusse. [Picture: Noticias]
Officials in Mozambique who violated the law in contracting the nation’s ‘hidden debts’ may be sued.
Mozambique’s Public Prosecutor’s Office may sue officials who violated the law in contracting debt on behalf of public company Ematum, after the Constitutional Council in June ruled the process null and void, an official source said on Wednesday.
Since the contracts “have been deemed illegal, prosecutors may take the view that there are grounds for lodging a civil action” to require the return of the amounts in question, Angelo Matusse, the deputy attorney-general, told journalists following the opening session of an official gathering of magistrates in Maputo.
This is the first time that the attorney-general’s office has commented on the ‘hidden debts’ scandal since the Constitutional Council decision emerged. That body decided to annul the acts resulting in the lending of US$726.5 million (EUR 646.7 million) to Ematum and the sovereign guarantees conferred by the state.
Matusse said that it was necessary to “understand that it was agents of the state who concluded these contracts”, and that accountability remained with the officials who signed the contracts without notifying parliament and the country’s international partners.
“The constitutional principle is that the state answers for the acts of its agents,” he said. “And there is another principle … that when an employee acts, deviating from the law, the state can (…) sanction this state agent to compensate for the damage they may have caused. This is the basic principle.”
The nullification of the acts relating to the contracting of the Ematum debt was requested by the Budget Monitoring Forum, the Mozambican non-governmental organisation which lodged a plea with 2,000 signatories demanding that the sovereign loans and guarantees be ruled unconstitutional.
NGOs have called for the loans to maritime safety companies ProIndicus and MAM, corresponding, at about $2.2 billion, to a further 60% of the hidden debts, to also be declared invalid.Source: Lusa