After nearly five years in detention in South Africa, former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang was finally extradited to the US on Wednesday (12 July) where he was arraigned in a court in New York on Thursday (13 July) to face a fraud and corruption trial over a $2 billion scandal involving fraudulent government loans.
Chang pleaded not guilty to US criminal charges over his alleged involvement in a fraud involving $2 billion in loans to three state-owned companies, which triggered a financial crisis in Mozambique and a warrant for his arrest. Chang was arrested in South Africa in December 2018 on US charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. After five years of legal wrangling over whether to send him back home or to the US — and after his last-ditch court effort to avoid extradition failed in May — Chang was finally handed over to US authorities.
Chang is accused of taking up to $17 million in bribes to secure unconstitutional loans from international banks for state-owned companies. The loans were for maritime projects, such as a tuna fishing fleet, in what became known as the “hidden debt” or “tuna” scandal. The US government says American investors were among the fraud victims. When the amount of debt was discovered in 2016, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund pulled support from Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries. About half a billion dollars is still unaccounted for and alleged to have gone to kickbacks.
Source: The North Africa Post