Mozambique-Nyusi and Predecessor Split Over $2.2bn Fraud Case Fraud

Former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and current President Filipe Nyusi have exchanged accusations in court over the $2.2bn fraud, responsible for the biggest financial scandal ever recorded in Mozambique’s history. The so-called hidden debts were contracted under President Guebuza presidency, but allegedly orchestrated by Nyusi as defense minister at the time.

 By Jorge Joaquim

Relations have gone south between President Nyuzi and former President Guebuza

Former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza says it is strange that his successor Filipe Nyusi knows nothing about EMATUM and MAM, as the current president told investigators of the hidden debts case that he can only answer partially about the ProIndicus process.

Nyusi was at the time of the contraction of the aforementioned debts defense minister and automatically head of the operative command, a group which, according to Guebuza, was delegated by him to handle all aspects relating to the design and implementation of Offshore defense company Proindicus, industrial fishing company Ematum and shipbuilding and repair company MAM.

However, speaking to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in August 2018 at the time of the preparatory instruction of the hidden debts case now at the trial stage, Nyusi said that as Minister of National Defense (2008-2014) he never knew of the existence of EMATUM and MAM, and has no domain to what extent the two companies can be considered as being linked to the Defense and Security Forces.

To this extent, he said that he knows nothing about the processes of their creation, funding, and operation, so that he only became aware of the existence of these two companies only when the matter was publicly triggered at a time when he was no longer defense minister.

Confronted with these statements, Guebuza said it was “strange” that Nyusi had said this to the PGR. “I have no comment because it is [a statement] strange,” he said on Friday as he was being heard for the second day in court. “He (Nyusi) was head of the operative command, but he says he doesn’t know what happened so it is strange,” he stressed.

At the first hearing Guebuza had stated that the details of the three hidden debt companies should be given by Nyusi, justifying that as head of the operative command he dealt with all aspects together with the other members of the group, namely, the former interior minister, Alberto Mondlane and the head of the Mozambican secret services SISE, Gregório Leão. Mondlane also said he did not know anything beyond ProIndicus.

When President Guebuza was asked if he could present any evidence indicating that Nyusi knows more details, he said that the court should request Nyusi’s hearing to question him directly.

President Felipe Nyusi denies any wrong doing

 Nyusi responds partially on ProIndicus

 The contradiction between the statesmen extends to ProIndicus, the only company whose knowledge was assumed by most of the defendants and declarants. When asked about it, Guebuza said that its details should be answered by Nyusi from its creation and efforts to seek funding.

However, Nyusi told the PGR that as a member of the operative command and the government he never participated and never had knowledge of the act that authorized the company to take on debt with the backing of the state.

He said he does not know how the process for financing the company with the sweden bank Credit Suisse was triggered, nor does he has any knowledge of the contracts underwritten by the company to acquire equipment from the Lebanese shipbuilding group Privinvest’s Abu Dhabi Mar company, and at no time was he talked about the companies in question.

He also said he had no control over how the guarantees were issued by the then finance minister Manuel Chang assuring payment of that company’s debts in the event of default.

 Judge again refuses to hear Nyusi

 In light of President Guebuza’s declarations, associated with those of other declarants and defendants, the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) once again requested a hearing of President Nyusi to provide clarification on the case of the hidden debts.

The judge in the case, Efigenio Baptista, refused for the third time, alleging that the case has already been sufficiently clarified, and therefore there is no need to hear the President. Furthermore, Baptista added, the law prevents a judge from revoking previous decisions on the same application.

Baptista took the opportunity to clarify that Nyusi was heard in his office during the preparatory instruction of the process, and that when he was summoned again for the phase of adversarial hearings, he said that his version holds and therefore he saw no need to be heard again.

However, OAM questioned the trial phase itself, with the judge saying that even if it was to hear Nyusi, the law determines that a President of the Republic must be heard only in his office and in the exclusive presence of the judge. “So even here in the court where you ask him to be heard would not be possible,” he said.

It was in this sequence that, at OAM’s request, the judge read Nyusi’s brief statements made in 2018 before prosecutor Alberto Paulo. A year after that session, Nyusi promoted Paulo to the position of Deputy Attorney General of the Republic, a position he holds to this day.

 Guebuza blames Renamo for illegality of debts

 The main reason to go around the parliamentary approval for the contraction of the debts of the three companies has to do with the presence of the largest opposition party, Renamo, in that body, said Armando Guebuza.

“That debt was also to acquire equipment to combat those who at that time attacked Mozambique at various points,” he said. “It turns out that part of the attackers were part of Renamo, and this party has representation in the Assembly of the Republic… how can we take an issue like this to parliament?” he asked.

“I say it would be irresponsible;” he said. “It was to open up the possibility that they [Renamo] would have all the information and that would call into question the viability of the combat plans.”

The Case has sourced a happy retirement for former President Guebuza

However, before that justification Guebuza made it clear that this was a decision taken at the level of the operative command. “I agreed with the plan that was given to me by the operative command,” he said.

The position contradicts Nyusi’s version, who at the time of his hearing said he was unaware that the process of contracting ProIndicus would be done outside the parliament.

In fact, according to Nyusi, the rationale for the creation of ProIndicus had to do with the protection of multinationals which were engaged in the exploitation of natural resources in Mozambique, especially the Italian ENI, the American Anadarko and Kenmare.

About the mysterious $500m of the $850m from EMATUM, which disappeared without trace, but which was declared by SISE to have been applied to defense, mainly to combat Renamo attacks, Nyusi said that his ministry has not received even one piece of equipment. The same position was presented by his successor Salvador Ntumuke.

All citizens must be equal before the law says Ossufo Momade of Renamo

Renamo joins calls for Nyusi to testify

 Filipe Nyusi should be heard by the court for the sake of clarifying the hidden debts, especially after the testimonies of Former President Armando Guebuza pointing to him as knowing all details of the case, Ossufo Momade, president of Renamo, told the press.

In fact, everyone who was heard during the preparatory instruction has now been heard again in court, some already as defendants and others as declarants, with the exception of Nyusi.

Ossufo Momade is indignant about the fact and says that the truth about the hidden debts case will only be finally reached when President Nyusi is heard again to be confronted with the new data advanced in court, especially that of Armando Guebuza who pointed to his successor as the key to everything involving the $2.2bn fraudulent loan.

“Therefore, the President of the Republic Filipe Jacinto Nyusi must be heard because under the terms of the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique all Citizens are equal before the Law,” said Momade.

Judge Efigenio Baptista, however, has already rejected requests for Nyusi’s hearing three times, and in the last rejection he made it known that it was final and there was no more talk of the matter. Ossufo Momade believes that the court’s behavior is further evidence that the Mozambican state is “totally captured by a criminal regime.”

For Ossufo Momade, Guebuza’s statements blaming Renamo of avoiding the parliament, are nothing more than a “false narrative” and the hidden debts were contracted because Mozambique is an “authoritarian regime without government transparency or any mechanisms of mutual control and accountability.

“In this regime it is enough to claim the security of the state and Superior Orders from the Chief to go over the law, typical of personalized governance,” he said.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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