Mozambique’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) has asked the Mozambican council of state to authorise former president, Armando Guebuza, to be heard in the process of hidden debts, Mozambican media reported on Friday.
The weekly Savana newspaper reported that the council of state met on Tuesday and authorised the request.
At the meeting, in a virtual format, led by Filipe Nyusi, the current president, there was an intervention by Guebuza, who told the press that he would provide the clarifications requested, but that he was suspicious about the constant and unfashionable performance of the Attorney General’s Office.
Armando Guebuza says he is the target of a campaign of attempted political assassination, with recourse to the judiciary, said STV television.
The newspaper O País mentioned that the PGR’s request for clarification is dated October 2018, but the former head of state has addressed its legality several times.
The ‘hidden debts’ are related to loans worth $2.2 billion (€2 billion) taken out between 2013 and 2014 with the British subsidiaries of the investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB by the Mozambican state companies Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.
The loans were secretly endorsed by the government of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo, the party in power since independence), led by Guebuza, without the knowledge of parliament or the Administrative Court.
Among the 19 defendants arrested in Mozambique are figures close to the former President, such as one of his sons, Ndambi Guebuza, and his secretary, Inês Moaine.
The Mozambican Public Prosecutor accuses the defendants of criminal association, blackmail, taking bribes, embezzlement, abuse of position or function, violation of management rules, and forgery.
The most recent development in the case occurred in June when the Superior Court of Appeal in Maputo announced that it would release one defendant in the case of the hidden debts (Maria Biosse), rejecting the appeal of the other 19, which, according to civil society organisations, creates conditions for the trial to take place.
Arrests in Mozambique began on 14 February 2019, after the U.S. justice department ordered the arrest of Manuel Chang, Guebuza’s former finance minister, who was arrested on 29 December 2018 while travelling through South Africa, where he is awaiting extradition – also disputed by Mozambique.
However, a London court announced in August that it wants to hear Guebuza, as a relevant person to help clarify the case of the hidden debts.
In the lawsuit, Mozambique intends to write off ProIndicus’ $622 million (€552.6 million) debt to Credit Suisse – contracted through a British subsidiary of the bank – and demand compensation to cover all the losses of the hidden debts scandal.