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The chief prosecutor for the United States investigation into Mozambique’s hidden debts was in April hired as a legal consultant for a US oil company involved in liquefied natural gas exploration in Mozambique.
Matthew Amatruda, the chief prosecutor of the case which incriminates former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang and other former Mozambican government officials, has ceased to represent the United States government in a federal court in New York and now works as a lawyer for the company ExxonMobil.
The news was announced by Zitamar News, which says the hiring of Amatruda “gives Exxon a potential substantial advantage in navigating … the waters of Mozambican politics”.
“There have always been close ties between the US government and ExxonMobil – as was clearly demonstrated with the current administration, when President Trump appointed Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state,” writes Zitamar.
Amatruda was the main representative of the US government and the main prosecutor since the beginning of the process, which ended up incriminating Mozambicans Manuel Chang, Teófilo Nhangumele and António do Rosario of crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit electronic fraud to conspiracy to commit the crime of money laundering, bribery or corruption.
US attorneys have the power to decide which cases and investigations have priority in the courts.
“It would not be the first time that the US was accused of flexing its international legal power in a way that benefits American business abroad,” the Zitamar report also suggests.
Both US and Mozambican law stipulate a minimum period before a former public employee can move to a private company, with restrictions on contacts with former colleagues.
Exxon, along with other oil companies, this month received authorisation from the Mozambican government to develop the Rovuma LNG natural gas exploration project in the Rovuma basin.
Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang, three former Credit Suisse bankers and a Privinvest mediator were arrested in December at the request of the US court.
The investigation claims that the US$2.2 billion (EUR 1.97 billion) financing operation to create the Mozambican public companies Ematum, Proindicus and MAM during the term of President Armando Guebuza is a vast case of corruption and money laundering.
Mozambique saw foreign aid cut in 2016 after the debts were disclosed.Source: Lusa
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