Former Mozambican finance minister Chang goes a step further…
The High Court in Johannesburg has rejected the Mozambican government’s request for leave to appeal against the court’s ruling that former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang should be extradited to the United States to face corruption charges .
Wednesday’s ruling by Judge Margaret Victor brings Chang one step closer to moving him from a South African jail cell to a New York courtroom to face charges stemming from the scam of “hidden debts” of 2 billion dollars in Mozambique.
But legal sources warn that Maputo could still resort to other maneuvers to prevent this from happening, such as asking the Supreme Court of Appeal directly to overturn the Johannesburg High Court’s decision.
Chang has been in South African prisons since December 27, 2018, as lawyers and governments argue over whether he should be extradited to the United States or Mozambique for trial.
Maputo says he wants him sent home to face Mozambican justice, while the United States says he should be tried in the United States for the scam he was allegedly complicit in, in 2013 and 2014, defrauded American investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two South African justice ministers, the incumbent, Ronald Lamola, and his predecessor, Michael Masutha, gave orders at different times for Chang to be sent to Mozambique.
Ministers canceled twice
But the Johannesburg High Court twice overruled the ministers’ decisions, acting on behalf of a Mozambican NGO, the Fórum de Monitoria do Orçamento (FMO) – Budget Monitoring Forum. The FMO argued that the Mozambican government has no real intention of prosecuting Chang and that the Mozambican people would only find out what happened to their money if Chang were to testify in US court.
On November 10, 2021, Judge Victor agreed with the FMO that Chang was unlikely to face real justice in Mozambique. She reversed Lamola’s August 23, 2021 decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique and instead ordered that he be extradited to the United States.
In his judgment on Wednesday, Victor noted that the Mozambican government had, on December 15, 2021, requested leave to appeal, directly to the Constitutional Court, and that the Constitutional Court had rejected this request.
The Mozambican government then applied to the High Court for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against the Johannesburg High Court’s ruling that Chang should be surrendered to the United States.
But Judge Victor rejected that request in her judgment on Wednesday, saying Maputo had not provided any compelling reason why she should be allowed to appeal, nor did her appeal have “a reasonable prospect of success”. .
Chang was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport on December 27, 2018 while traveling from Maputo to Dubai on vacation. South African authorities arrested him at the request of the United States.
Two extradition requests
On January 29, 2019, the United States formally requested South Africa to extradite Chang. Three days later, on February 1, 2019, Mozambique asked Pretoria to extradite Chang to Mozambique. This was before Mozambique charged him with any offence.
Mozambique’s failure to charge Chang some five years after his alleged offenses has heightened suspicions by FMO and many others that it had no real intention of prosecuting him.
In 2013 and 2014, Chang, then finance minister, signed loans of around $2 billion from Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB bank in Mozambique to buy a fleet of tuna trawlers and naval patrol boats, as well as equipment. and support services, to launch a national tuna fishing industry.
But no fish were caught, and the United States, in its indictment of Chang, alleged that the project had been a scam from the start aimed at funneling the $2 billion into the pockets of Chang and other officials from Mozambique, Credit Suisse bank and Privinvest, Abu Dhabi bank. – based fishing company which supplied the vessels.
In its indictment against Chang, the US Department of Justice said several US citizens were indirectly defrauded by Chang, as they invested in the $2 billion in secondary market debt. DM