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Mozambique: London hidden debts trial may call Presidente Filipe Nyusi

Mozambique: London hidden debts trial may call Presidente Filipe Nyusi

por Kudzai Chinoda -
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Mozambique: London hidden debts trial may call Presidente Filipe Nyusi


Credit Suisse is threatening to call the president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, in the trial opposing the investment bank to the African state in the High Court of London in the case of ‘hidden debts’, due to be heard next year.

In a document submitted to the court, Credit Suisse admits adding Nyusi to the case as a defendant “to account for his irregularities.

The bank’s lawyers have asked the Mozambican authorities, in a letter dated 11 May, to confirm that the head of state is not claiming immunity in this case, but by July had not received a reply.  

The Attorney General’s Office of Mozambique initiated this case in the British courts to try to cancel the debt of $622 million (552.6 million euros) of the state-owned company Proindicus to Credit Suisse and to demand compensation to cover all losses resulting from the ‘hidden debt’ scandal.

At stake are the ‘hidden debts’ of the Mozambican state of around $2 billion (€1.8 billion) contracted between 2013 and 2014 in the form of credit from the British subsidiaries of the investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB on behalf of the Mozambican state companies Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.

The deal accentuated a public financial crisis and led Mozambique to default on payments to international creditors.

If Credit Suisse is found guilty, President Nyusi may be liable to pay a “compensation or contribution”, the bank said in the updated defence argument deposited in court at the beginning of July. 

The basis for the potential liability is a reference to a million-dollar payment made in 2014 by Privinvest to a company established in the United Arab Emirates with the references ‘Nys’, ‘New man’, ‘Nuy’ or ‘New guy’, which the bank’s lawyers suggest would be Nyusi, minister of defence at the time, because of the resemblance to the name.

Another indication is the testimony of Lebanese businessman Jean Boustani during a trial in the United States of America linked to the ‘hidden debts’ case, alleging that he had set aside $6 million to finance Nyusi’s election campaign.

Boustani, accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of conspiracies to commit transfer fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, was found not guilty.

Credit Suisse also attributes a “substantive role of President Nyusi in the consideration and approval of Proindicus and Ematum transactions” and that, assuming payments were made to other members and officials of the government, “payments to him would be necessary for the transactions to occur.

The bank’s attorneys claim that if it is actually proven that the deal was illicit, as the complaint alleges, “President Nyusi participated in it through (at least) alleged acceptance of bribery and violation of the duties of Mozambican law,” and may be “responsible as a co-conspirator.

Last week it was learned that the former President Armando Guebuza has been called in the case as a relevant person to help clarify the case.

On the ‘Third Parties’ list are Armando Ndambi Guebuza, his eldest son, Gregório Leão, the former director of the State Information and Security Services (SISE), António Carlos do Rosário, Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang and Isaltina Lucas, the former national director of the Mozambican Treasury.

The court also intends to hear Teófilo Nhangumele and Bruno Langa, two people close to Armando Ndambi Guebuza.

With the exception of Armando Guebuza and Isaltina Lucas, all the personalities that the High Court of Justice in London intends to hear are being held in Mozambique accused of involvement in the ‘hidden debt’ scandal.

Iskandar Safa, owner of Privinvest, has also been referred to in the case as an assistant.

The trial in the Commercial Court of the London High Court is scheduled to begin in 2021.

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