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The Mozambican state, through the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR), is suing the Abu Dhabi based group Privinvest for its role in the country’s “hidden debts”.
This is the term used to describe the largest financial scandal ever to hit Mozambique, in which the previous government, under the then President Armando Guebuza, illicitly guaranteed loans for over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia obtained by the fraudulent companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).
The loans were arranged under deals concocted by Privinvest, notably by one of its senior managers, Jean Boustani, who is now under arrest in the United States, awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud.
The US indictment, against Boustani, former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang, currently under South African police custody in Johannesburg, and three former Credit Suisse executives, argues that the declared purpose of Proindicus, Ematum and MAM – namely to boost Mozambican coastal security and to set up a tuna fishing fleet – was just a façade, and the real intention behind setting up the companies was illicit enrichment. The US investigations showed that at least 200 million dollars of the loan proceeds were used to pay bribes and kickbacks.
Privinvest was the sole contractor for all three companies. The fishing boats and speedboats provided were built in a Privinvest-owned shipyard in the French port of Cherbourg. When the PGR hired the forensic auditing company Kroll to audit the three companies in early 2017, Kroll found that the invoices from Privinvest were grossly inadequate, running to no more than a page in length.
Kroll did its own estimate of the value of the assets provided by Privinvest and found that the prices had been wildly inflated. Kroll put this over-invoicing at around 700 million dollars.
In addition, 500 million of the 850 million dollars lent to Ematum could not be accounted for at all. It was suggested that this money had been used to purchase military equipment, but the Mozambican Defence Ministry denied receiving any such equipment, and Privinvest claims that its contracts do not cover military equipment.
The PGR is suing five companies in the Privinvest group – namely Privinvest Shipbuilding S.A.L. Abu Dhabi (Branch), Abu Dhabi Mar LLC, Privinvest Shipbuilding Investments LLC, Logistics International SAL (Offshore), and Logistics International Investments.
The PGR is also suing Credit Suisse International and Credit Suisse AG, and the three Credit Suisse former managers named in the US indictment, namely Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh and Detelvina Subeva. These three were all arrested in London in January, on the basis of US warrants. They were released on bail, but may well be extradited to New York.
A source in the PGR told the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique” that a civil suit against these companies and individuals was deposited on Wednesday with the High Court of Justice/Queen’s Bench Division, in London. The PGR is demanding that each of those named in the suit compensate Mozambique for its losses in the corrupt scheme.Source: AIM