Sun | Sep 24, 2023

Former Mozambique finance minister loses last appeal, set for extradition to US over $2B scandal

Published:Friday | May 26, 2023 | 2:37 PM
Former Mozambican finance minister, Manuel Chang, appears in court in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 8, 2019. Chang faces imminent extradition to the US to face corruption charges after spending four years in a South African prison. Chang was in 2018 arrested in South Africa on a US warrant of arrest for charges related to his role in a $2 billion debt scandal that plunged Mozambique into a financial crisis when it was uncovered in 2016. (AP Photo/Phill Magakoe, File)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nearly five years after he was arrested at a South African airport, Mozambique's former finance minister has lost a last-ditch court appeal and faces extradition to the United States over a $2 billion corruption scandal related to loans to Mozambican state-owned companies.

US prosecutors allege that Manuel Chang, Mozambique's finance minister from 2005 to 2015, was involved in a scheme that ultimately defrauded American and international investors.

The huge sums of money leant by international banks to Mozambique — and guaranteed by the Mozambique government — were meant for a series of maritime projects but disappeared in bribes, kickbacks and other illegal payments, it's alleged.

Chang is accused of receiving about $17 million in bribes in the “hidden debts” scandal.

He was indicted in the Eastern District Court of New York in 2018.

The more than $2 billion was meant to be for the purchase of naval vessels, the building and maintenance of shipyards and various other projects to help the country's fishing industry, but were never used for those purposes, according to the allegations.

The scandal caused a financial crisis in Mozambique.

When the loans were disclosed in 2016, the International Monetary Fund withdrew its support for the southern African country.

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