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Mozambique’s ex- finance minister in SA court

Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang has appeared in a court in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, for a hearing over a US extradition request over alleged fraud.

Manuel Chang appears at the Kempton Park Magistrates court on Jan. 8 (Photographer: Wikus De Wet/AFP via Getty Images)
Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique, appears at the Kempton Park Magistrates court to fight extradition to the United states on January 8 2019 in Kempton Park, South Africa. – Chang has received an indictment from the US department of justice detailing charges linked to three loans to Mozambican state companies, lawyer Rudi Krause said. (Photo by Wikus DE WET / AFP) (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)

He was arrested as part of an operation targeting individuals accused of involvement in a $2bn (£1.5bn) fraud scheme connected to firms in Mozambique.

Chang denies any wrongdoing.

He would challenge the lawfulness of his arrest as police had not received a formal extradition request, his lawyers said, Reuters news agency reported.

Some Mozambicans gathered outside the court in Pretoria to support his extradition.

Three former employees of the Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse were arrested in London last week.

US prosecutors say that through a series of financial transactions between approximately 2013 and 2016, they created fraudulent maritime projects and used state-owned companies in Mozambique as fronts to raise $2bn.

Credit Suisse made clear that no action had been taken against the bank itself.

Some of the investors defrauded included US nationals, the indictment says.

It added that they “intentionally diverted portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200m in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others”.

The state-owned companies missed more than $700m in loan payments after defaulting in 2016 and 2017, the indictment adds.

Mozambique’s government revealed in 2016 to undisclosed lending, prompting the IMF and foreign donors to cut off support, triggering a currency collapse and a default on Mozambique’s sovereign debt. It is still struggling to overcome the resultant debt crisis.

On Monday Mozambique authorities announced that 18 people, including Mr Chang, had been indicted.

The attorney general’s office said it would seek to have those charged in the US and elsewhere to face charges in Mozambique. BBC News