Mozambique’s Hidden Debt Scandal


Contents
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Introduction
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In 2011, Abu Dhabi Mar, a company of the Privinvest Group, proposed a project for securing Mozambique’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, the first 200 sea miles off the coast) to the President of Mozambique. Three Mozambican firms, ProIndicus, Empresa Moçambicana de Atum (Ematum), Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), received $2 billion USD loans (given by Credit Suisse and VTB Capital on signature of the Mozambican Finance Minister) for a shared shipbuilding, fishing and maritime surveillance project from the government in 2014. The parliament was supposed to guarantee the sum, but it was never consulted. $1,651 million USD of these loans were spent on military and naval equipment from Privinvest for the development of said project. Money destined to buy fishing vessels seems to have been used instead to finance weapons. Said project never evolved or used its capabilities to “develop” the fishery inside the EEZ as advertised.

The loans could not be paid back, and when investigations into the deals unfolded, international support for Mozambique retreated in 2016, cutting off $265 million USD aid in 2016. The government could no longer service all of its debts due to currency devaluation, Islamist terror, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The corrupt deals hold a great responsibility in this downward spiral, and it seems the government still has to pay back the money. The international courts do not acknowledge Mozambique’s claim that the signature of the Finance Minister Manuel Chang was illegal, due to the bribes and the misinformation of the parliament. Alleged bribes do not overturn the demand of the creditors (banks) to get their money back. Privinvest’s owner, Iskandar Safa, admitted to making certain payments in line with the bribery allegations, but denied they were illegal. A legal verdict has not yet been reached.


Case details
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Seller country: France
Seller company: Privinvest Shipbuilding SAL (Holding) (PSAL), Privinvest Shipbuilding Investments LLC (PISB), Abu Dhabi Mar Investments LLC (ADM), Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN), Logistics International SAL (Offshore), Logistics International Investments LLC
Buyer country: Mozambique
Goods category: Aircraft, Surveillance Equipment, Warships, Intellectual Property Rights, Drones
Equipment sold:

ProIndicus Project (provider: PSAL, transformed into PISB) - 16 radar stations (6 manned, 10 unmanned) - 36 DV15 interceptor vessels - 3 WP18 strike-craft vessels - 3 HSI32 offshore patrol vessels - 6 Remos GX light maritime patrol aircraft - central command and control site, training centre - satellite surveillance system - training & maintenance of all above

EMATUM Project (provider ADM) - 3 Ocean Eagle 43 Trimaran patrol vessels - and their associated camcopter drones - equipment for land operations centre - training and spare parts for the above

MAM Project (provider PISB) - maintenance, repair and assembling sites for vessels of ProIndicus & EMATUM deals. - vessel components to be delivered by PISB

Deal value: (2 billion US$ loan to 3 Mozambican firms -> debt scandal) 1,651 million US$ of which to Privinvest -> arms deal part
Sum involved in corruption: USD 713 million overbilling (whole debt scandal within the three firms, see Kroll report) 200 million US$ bribes by Privinvest towards Mozambican officials (including campaign donations to president's party) and Credit Suisse bankers (who pleaded guilty over ~USD 50 million bribes) + offsets (real estate, a new maritime agency, a diamond mine, a TV station, a bank and a prepaid mobile phone card business), framed unlawful by Nyusi administration, regarded as lawful by Privinvest (legal verdict is still pending,) payments to Mozambique’s ruling party, payments to politically exposed persons
Start year: 2013
Outcome status: Legal Investigation Ongoing, Trial Begun, Out of Court Secret Arbitration - Ongoing

Dramatis Personae
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  • Filipe Nyusi: current President of Mozambique, Defence Minister during time of alleged corruption

  • Armando Emilio Guebuza: Mozambican President at the time

  • Manuel Chang: Mozambican Finance Minister at the time

  • Iskandar Safa: head of Privinvest

  • Andrew Pearse, Detelina Subeva, Surjan Singh: Swiss bankers who pleaded guilty on receiving bribes

  • Jean Boustani: Chief Trader at Privinvest

  • Antonio do Rosario: Managing Director of MAM, Pro Indicus, Ematum, Director of Economic Intelligence at SISE (Mozambique’s Security and Intelligence Service)

  • Pro Indicus: Mozambique state-owned company, defence and security company to protect the Mozambican EEZ at sea, in liquidation process

  • MAM Mozambique Asset Management: Mozambique state-owned company, should offer maritime repairs, in liquidation process

  • Ematum: Mozambique partly state-owned company, fishing processing and selling of tuna, in liquidation process


Summary of Corruption Allegations
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  • Alleged bribery and campaign donations by Privinvest (totalling $200 million USD), were received by Mozambican senior officials and the presidential party in order to obtain contracts for over $1.6 billion USD for military and naval equipment within a fishery development / EEZ security project
  • There was a “contractor fee” to Credit Suisse bankers (who were convicted for money laundering).
  • The contracts were paid for with government guaranteed loans, which were allegedly illegal and secret (hidden debt scandal).
  • Investors including hedge funds colluded in the purchase, profit and sale of the loans through private-side placements, making significant short-term returns
  • Boustani was acquitted of all charges, including bribery, in a New York trial in 2019
  • No Mozambican or Privinvest officials were tried for corruption, although there are ongoing cases in the UK, Switzerland & Mozambique.

Timeline
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  • 2011

    Privinvest proposes project for EEZ fishing & security to Mozambique

  • 2013

    From 2013 to 2014 loans are given to ProIndicus, Ematum, MAM, with Finance Minister Chang, giving public guarantees. Only the Ematum-loan is publicly disclosed.

  • Mar 2014

    From March to August 2014 payments of $10 million USD total are made to Frelimo (presidential party) by a Privinvest subsidiary, Logistics International S.A.L. (off shore)

  • Jan 2015

    The first Ocean Eagle 43 launched, subsequently all security equipment is delivered

  • 2015

    The International Monetary Fund alerts the presidency that all three firms have trouble repaying

  • Since 2015: Various investigations are opened and civil suits follow on the repayment and legal status of the loans. The lack of repayment becomes national news.


Investigation Outcomes
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    Kroll Report 2017
    • 2017

      The office of the public prosecutor of Mozambique submitted an independent audit of the loans contracted by ProIndicus EMATUM and Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) (Kroll Report). According to this report:

    • Privinvest overinflated prices by $713 million USD; $500 million USD cannot be accounted for; $200 million USD spent on fees and commissions, additionally, the report confirms the existence of “the majority” of assets in Pemba Harbour, or in dry storage in Pemba Naval Base or Maputo Sea Port, but some were not commissioned, most are not used.

    Trial of Jean Boustani in USA 2019 (response to Kroll report):
    • 2018

      From early 2018 the US justice system looks into the case: Allegedly, the accused had “created maritime projects that conducted in little to no legitimate business activity to funnel at least $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others.”

    • Dec 2018

      Criminal proceedings commenced in the eastern District Court of New York

    • Jan 2019

      Jean Boustani and the 3 CS traders Andrew Pearse, Detelina Subeva, Surjan Singh are arrested

    • 2019

      Credit Suisse Traders pleaded guilty for money laundering and conspiracy to violate anti-corruption laws

    • Dec 2019

      Boustani acquitted

    Credit Suisse Settlement
    • 19 Oct 2021

      Credit Suisse and its subsidiary Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Limited (CSSEL) admitted to having defrauded investors over securities of EMATUM with authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom in the financing of the tuna fishing project. They were set to pay $474 million in penalties plus restitution.

    • 19 Jul 2022

      CSSEL agrees to pay investors back $22.6 million

    Civil suit / arbitration by Attorney General of Mozambique in London & Geneva 2019-2021 (to be continued in 2023):
    • Jun 2017

      Mozambique’s Attorney General takes up the case

    • Feb 2019

      Mozambique sues Privinvest & Safa in separate claims in front of London High Court (ACPOC). The ultimate goal for Mozambique is to nullify the loans (which are requested to be declared illegal) and get back the money it paid to Privinvest.

    • 2019

      Privinvest starts arbitration proceedings in Switzerland.

    • 8 Apr 2020

      & 2020-07-30: The two London proceedings (1, 2) are joined into one and a request by Privinvest is dismissed, resulting that the civil suit may proceed even with the arbitration going on.

    • 15 Jan 2021

      Mr. Safa files his 157 page defence at London Magistrate Court.

    • 11 Mar 2021

      The London civil suit is now indeed halted until the Swiss private courts conclude over the secret arbitration Mozambique vs. Privinvest.

    • 21 May 2021

      Safa won a ruling that can hold Nyusi accountable for any damages if bribes were to be proven later.

    • 4 Aug 2021

      NGO (Centro do Integridade Publica & Spotlight on Corruption) complain about secrecy of arbitration at the Mozambique Supreme Court

    • 2023

      the case might continue in London in 2023, once the Swiss arbitration is completed

    Extradition of Mr Chang from South Africa 2019-2021:
    • Dec 2018

      Manuel Chang is arrested in South Africa

    • May 2019

      First extradition request is blocked by South African courts on the basis of disputed immunity as a Mozambican Member of Parliament.

    • Aug 2021

      Since August to November 2021, there has been a court battle on his extradition. First he should be extradited to Mozambique. But from within Mozambique NGOs voices fears of Chang being protected by high-up friends there. The Johannesburg high court overruled that he has to be tried in the US instead.

    • Jul 2022

      As of August 2022, the decision was still not final as Mozambique appealed a July 2022 decision of the South African High Court (Gauteng division) to extradite Chang to the United States.

    Hidden Debt Trial in Maputo:
    • 2015

      Start of investigation by the Attorney General Beatriz Buchili

    • Feb 2019

      Mozambique arrests a number of officials, including Ndambi Guebuza, the eldest son of the former president

    • Aug 2019

      Mozambique indicts 20 people over debt-scandal, many government officials

    • 23 Aug 2021

      Start of trial in Maputo

    • 12 Feb 2022

      Final hearing of “production of proof phase”

    • 30 Nov 2022

      The final verdict, originally scheduled for 01 August 2022, is awaited


    References
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    • Cortez et. al., “Costs and Consequences of the Hidden Debt”, Centro de Integridade Pública (CIP), 2021, [URL] https://www.cipmoz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Costs-and-consequences-of-the-Hidden-Debt.pdf, last accessed 05.03.2022.

    • Nhamirre, “What is there left to clear up in the Hidden Debts trial?”, Centro de Integridade Pública (CIP), 2022, [URL] https://www.cipmoz.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Hidden-Debts.pdf, last accessed 05.03.2022.

    • High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court London, Privinvest Response, 2019, https://cipmoz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Privinvest-Defence-to-RACPOC-15.01.2021.pdf, last accessed 05.03.2022.

    • Deutsche Welle Moçambique, “Ematum: Mozambique hid from investors a US$622 million loan”, Club of Mozambique, 2016, [URL] https://clubofmozambique.com/news/ematum-mozambique-hid-from-investors-a-us622-million-loan-deutsche-welle/, last accessed 27.05.2022

    • further documents with secondary relevance to arms trade (claimants seeking to get their money from fraudulent loans back):

    • London High Court VTB Capital vs. Mozambique files at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1obl4k-GQPZHPLLRdYc3IfhK3SWOI4FqI

    • Mozambique vs. Credite Suisse files at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lGy6iKXZ5NVP0mqfIbN8xZHTYaZpP1yl?usp=sharing

    • further Court and Bank documents: https://www.cipmoz.org/en/documentos/