South Africa Delays Mozambique Ex-Finance Minister's Hearing
(Bloomberg) -- A South African court postponed a bail hearing related to a U.S. indictment against former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang, who’s been linked to $2 billion of allegedly fraudulent loans that caused the country to default.
Chang was arrested Dec. 29 in South Africa on charges relating to the concealed debt deals, alongside three former Credit Suisse Group AG bankers. He’s said he’ll fight extradition to the U.S.
The bail hearing in Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court east of Johannesburg was postponed until Wednesday to allow prosecutors to prepare their submissions, Magistrate Sagra Subroyen said. Chang appeared wearing a blue patterned shirt, dark blazer and jeans. Heavily armed police in camouflage stood guard in the courtroom while he was present.
Chang’s further detention is illegal due to a flawed arrest warrant, which didn’t include an extradition request, Advocate Willie Vermeulen, who is representing Chang, told reporters. The prosecutor requested time to respond.
Three former Credit Suisse Group AG bankers were charged in New York last week with defrauding U.S. investors after helping arrange hidden loans to Mozambique. The bank, which wasn’t named as a defendant in that indictment, said it was deceived by its own staff.
Chang signed papers on behalf of the government of Mozambique to guarantee the debts if the projects didn’t pay off, according to a U.S. Department of Justice indictment. He served as finance minister when Mozambique took on the foreign debt in 2013 and 2014 to finance a tuna-fishing fleet and maritime-surveillance project.
Chang is referred to as “Pantero”, or panther, in the indictment, which cites an email from one of his co-defendants, Jean Boustani, planning how to conceal illicit payments. He received at least $5 million in bribes and kickbacks from Privinvest, the sole supplier to the Mozambique government for the projects, according to the charges. Chang is yet to make a plea.
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