Mozambique’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has accused a second former ambassador of the theft of state funds.
Last month the GCCC announced that it had charged a former ambassador with embezzlement. Although he was not named in the GCCC release, it was soon discovered that the diplomat in question was Bernardo Xerinda, a former ambassador to Russia.
This time the accused was an ambassador “in a country on the American continent”, the GCCC said in a Wednesday statement. She is being accused of embezzlement, abuse of office and money laundering.
The GCCC says she stole almost 497,000 US dollars. She stole the money between 2009 and 2015, simply by ordering cheques issued in her name, which she claimed were for the rehabilitation of her official residence, and for the purchase of goods for the normal functioning of the embassy.
She also ordered reimbursement for air travel that she had never made. Sometimes she did make the journeys, but in economy class, and demanded reimbursement for business class. She transferred some of the stolen money to Maputo, which she used to buy a house. This was then registered in the name of a relative.
Although the GCCC mentions no names, it makes clear that the person charged is a woman, and the only woman who fits the dates is Amelia Sumbana, who was ambassador to the United States. The weekly paper “Savana”, a fortnight ago, also mentioned Sumbana as one of the diplomats under investigation.
In a second case, the GCCC has charged two officials of the Mozambican tax authority (AT) in Maputo province and a worker in a private car hire company (which was not named) of illicitly appropriating 600,000 meticais (about 11,760 dollars) from the company.
The tax officials, an accountant and an economist, abused their position to threaten the company, making its owners believe that it was about to be fined 77 million meticais, resulting from an audit held in September 2015.
They went to the company offices where they promised to drop the demand for a fine, if the company paid them a million meticais. In the event they only received 600,000 meticais, in two instalments, one for 400,000 and the second for 200,000 meticais.
The company worker charged was a go-between who took the money to the tax officials. His cut was just 14,000 meticais. The case is now with the Maputo Provincial Court.
Another tax official, stationed at the Maputo International Maritime Terminal (TIMAR) was arrested on GCCC orders on 11 April. The GCCC investigators caught him in the act of illicitly receiving 1,000 meticais for speeding up customs clearance of vehicles. The arrests followed the GCCC receiving reports of corrupt practices at TIMAR.
The GCCC also reported the start, on Tuesday, of the trial of four officials of the National Demining Institute (IND), charged with abuse of their office.
The four worked in the Administration and Finance Department of the IND, and between April 2009 and July 2011, they allegedly ordered that 21 air tickets, some for domestic and others for international flights, be issued to 14 members of their families, none of whom had any contractual ties to the Mozambican state. This crime defrauded the Mozambican state of about 250,000 meticais.
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