Teodoro Waty, a former chairperson of LAM, has said that he did not notice any irregularities in the management of the company when he took over from José Viegas in 2011. Viegas has been implicated in the scandal of an US$800,000 bribe paid to LAM by the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer in 2009.
Asked by the independent television station STV for his reaction to the scandal, Waty said “Newspapers are not courts, I have no proof that what is said is true. I trust my predecessor. When I was there, I saw no signs of what has been reported”. Waty seems unaware that the source of the accusation against Viegas is not any media report, but a document signed by Brazilian federal prosecutors and by officials from Embraer itself.
Embraer was accused of bribing officials, not only in Mozambique, but also in India, Saudi Arabia and the Dominican Republic. It reached a settlement both in Brazil and in the United States, which involved paying total fines of around US$225-million, and giving full details of the bribes.
Despite his apparent trust in Viegas, Waty also hoped that prosecutors in
Mozambique will investigate the case. “We hope that Mozambican justice plays its role”, he said. “I believe that it will intervene and that it will be impartial, equidistant, just and speedy to clear up what happened”. A representative of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM), Filipe Sitoe, told STV “the judicial bodies should do their work, and with full respect for the rights of the suspect”.
A second person named in the Brazilian document is Mateus Zimba, who at the time was the manager in Mozambique for the South African petrochemical giant, Sasol, and is now regional director of the US company, General Electric.
Zimba was allegedly a middleman in the bribe, setting up a fake company, named Xihevele, and registered in São Tomé and Príncipe, which received the money from Embraer in an account in Portugal.
The independent newssheet Mediafax caught up with Zimba last Thursday at a conference on natural gas held in Maputo’s Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre and tried to ask him about the scandal.
According to Friday’s issue of the paper, Zimba replied “There’s nothing I can say. I have a great deal of respect for your work”.
When the reporter tried to insist, Zimba simply said “Thank you very much”.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Moçambique/Mediafax
Assembly to question government on Embraer bribe
The case of the US$800,000 bribe paid by the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to Mozambican officials in 2009, to ensure that LAM would buy two Embraer aircraft, will be debated in the National Assembly later this month. On Tuesday 6 December, the parliamentary group of the ruling Frelimo Party tabled a request for the scandal to be placed urgently on the Assembly’s agenda, with members of the government called to explain the matter.
There were no objections to this proposal, and so the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, must contact the government, and fix a time for the question to be discussed in the Assembly plenary sometime in the next fortnight.
Embraer was caught offering bribes in four countries – India, Saudi Arabia, the Dominican Republic and Mozambique. To avoid further legal action, the company made a full confession to both the United States and the Brazilian authorities (the United States has jurisdiction, because Embraer is quoted on the New York stock exchange). Embraer agreed to pay fines in the United States and Brazil amounting to approximately US$225-million.
Documents from the US Justice Department and from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave details of the bribe, and stated that Mozambican officials were involved, but did not name them. However, the Brazilian Federal Prosecutors’ office was less reticent. A Brazilian document, signed by prosecutors, and by Embraer officials, names the LAM official who insisted on payment of a bribe as the then
chairperson of the LAM board, José Viegas.
It also named a key middleman (“Agent C” in the US documents) as Mateus Zimba. He was not an employee of LAM. For many years he was the Mozambican manager of the South African petrochemical giant, Sasol, and is currently the regional director of the US Company General Electric.
As detailed in the Brazilian document, Embraer was at first reluctant to “offer” more than US$80,000. But Viegas allegedly said he had received reactions from unnamed other people who regarded the Embraer offer “as an insult and to some extent it would have been less offensive to offer nothing at all”.
He thought US$1-million would be acceptable, but eventually settled on US$800,000. To channel this money, Zimba set up a company called Xihevele, registered in São Tomé and Príncipe, the sole purpose of which was to channel the money, in two instalments of US$400,000, from Embraer to the recipients of the bribe. The Mozambican Attorney General’s Office has promised to investigate the matter.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Moçambique
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