President ‘has not responded’ to Privinvest notice in UK court case

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President ‘has not responded’ to Privinvest notice in UK court case
President ‘has not responded’ to Privinvest notice in UK court case

Africa-Press – Mozambique. The president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has still not responded to a legal notice served by Abu Dhabi-based shipping group Privinvest regarding the hidden debts case currently being heard in the English courts, lawyers for the revealed on Tuesday.

“We are still trying to notify him,” Prinvinvest’s lawyer, Duncan Matthews, said on Tuesday at London’s Commercial Court at a preliminary hearing for the trial scheduled to begin in October 2023, adding that the courts in Mozambique had cited “difficulty in finding space in the president’s schedule.”

Documents notifying the Head of State were delivered on 19 October last year to the Ponta Vermelha presidential palace and the president’s office, both in Maputo. However, the lawyers of Privinvest and its owner, Iskandar Safa, have not yet managed to get the courts in Mozambique to complete the official notification.

The deadline for this notification was in May extended for another six months, until 21 November, by the British judge overseeing the case, Robin Knowles.

According to Prinvinvest’s lawyers, the courts in Mozambique have completed the notification of the remaining people identified as relevant third parties in this process, namely Manuel Chang, who was minister of finance when the loans in question were contracted in 2013 and 2014 by public enterprises Proindicus, Ematum and MAM for tuna fishing and maritime protection projects; Armando Emílio Guebuza, who was president of Mozambique at the time, and his eldest son, Armando Ndambi Guebuza; António Carlos do Rosário, a former director of economic intelligence of the State Intelligence and Security Services (SISE), and Gregório Leão, a former SISE director.

Nyusi himself was minister of defence at the time the loans were contracted.

The loans were guaranteed by the Mozambique state without the knowledge of parliament, the AdministrativeTribunal, or the country’s existing creditors.

A court in Maputo is currently preparing the verdict on the trial of 19 defendants accused by public prosecutors of having set up a criminal association to cheat the state of $2.7 billion (€2.3 billion) raised in the form of loans from international banks with the help of state guarantees.

Nyusi’s alleged involvement in the loans for the purchase of ships and maritime surveillance equipment has been the basis for several requests for information by Privinvest and investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB to the office of Mozambique’s attorney general.

It was the attorney general’s office that initiated legal action in the Commercial Court in London in 2019 to try to write off $622 million owed by public enterprise ProIndicus to Credit Suisse and seek compensation to cover all losses resulting from the hidden debts scandal – claiming that they were the result of bribes to senior public officials – but it has so far refused to respond on behalf of the president to the allegations of bribery and corruption.

In documents already filed in London, Privinvest confirmed that it had paid “substantial sums directly and indirectly for the benefit of President Nyusi” – including $1 million in 2014 at the request of SISE official António Carlos do Rosario for Nyusi’s election campaign and $10 million to Frelimo, “to cover the costs of President Nyusi’s election campaign and Frelimo’s associated campaign for the National Assembly elections.”

At issue in the various cases are the debts of around $2 billion contracted in 2013 and 2014 in the form of loans from the UK subsidiaries of Credit Suisse and VTB on behalf of Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.

The financing was for the acquisition of tuna fishing boats and maritime security equipment, and services provided by Privinvest companies.

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