Government “surprised” at disclosure of list of names allegedly covered by hidden debts investigation

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The Mozambique government on Thursday expressed surprise at the release of an alleged list of people whose bank confidentiality has been requested to be lifted on suspicion of corruption.

“We are surprised,” Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs Isac Chande told reporters. “How is it that such sensitive, serious matter that is still under investigation comes to be made public?”

According to Chande, if the authenticity of the list containing the names of people alleged to have benefited from the so-called hidden debts, including the former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, is confirmed, its disclosure violates judicial secrecy.

“When a case is said to be secret, it means that the information that is collected in the course of the investigation is not to be made public,” Chande said.

While noting that he has no direct access to the case, Chande said that the information provided so far by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) shows that the enquiry is still in the preliminary investigation phase (fase instrutória).

On the other hand, he continued, there is still an international debt audit, the results of which will be made public at the end of the month.

“The truth is that, as far as I know, this process is still under investigation,” he said.

The case is “in the stage of judicial secrecy and, as far as I know, the international audit will be made public, everything indicates, by the end of this month,” the Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs said.

The Mozambican press has over the last few days released an alleged list of people whose banking confidentiality the PGR has requested be lifted.

The request is part of investigations into the so-called hidden debts contracted by three public companies linked to maritime security and endorsed by the government between 2013 and 2014, without the knowledge of the Assembly of the Republic and international financial institutions.

The list, which began circulating on social networks before being released by the press, includes the name of former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, two of his sons and his former collaborators in the Republic presidency.

The international audit and the Mozambican Attorney General’s enquiries focus on loans guaranteed by the Mozambican government taken out by Ematum, Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) in 2013 and 2014 amounting to US$1.4 billion, plus US$727.5 million resulting from the conversion of Ematum corporate into sovereign bonds.

The discovery of the so-called hidden debts led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and major international donors to suspend their aid to the country, subjecting the resumption of aid to an ongoing independent international audit.

Speaking to Thursday’s edition of the weekly Savana, PGR press officer Georgina Zandamela refused to comment on the matter.

“The PGR does not comment on ongoing processes,” Zandamela said.

Source: Lusa

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