Mozambique ex-finance minister’s bail application postponed

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang is accused by US authorities of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. Picture: AFP/Wikus DE WET

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang is accused by US authorities of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. Picture: AFP/Wikus DE WET

Manuel Chang will remain in custody until January 18.

Former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang, who is wanted in the US for alleged fraud involving fraudulent loans of $2 billion, will stay behind bars until at least January 18.

His bail application in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court was postponed today until that date, for his defence to study detailed charges against him as well as the validity of his arrest warrant.

A Kempton Park magistrate ruled in favour of the state on Tuesday, saying that the arrest warrant issued against him was legal, after hours of argument and counter-argument between Chang’s defence lawyer and the state prosecutor.

The United States is busy working on a formal extradition document to have Chang brought to the US to face charges over allegations of fraudulent loans involving $2 billion, together with a number of other co-conspirators.

Chang oversaw Mozambique’s finances when it allegedly failed to disclose government guarantees for $2 billion in international borrowing by state-owned firms. He has been in detention since December 29 after an arrest warrant was issued by a Pretoria magistrate.

Defence lawyer Willie Dreyer on Tuesday told the African News Agency (ANA) that as per the extradition treaty between the US and South Africa the arrest was legal and South Africa had incorporated subsequent legislation into the law governing extradition.

“It’s a complex matter especially when high-profile individuals are involved. Mozambique has no extradition treaty with the US so when Chang was in South Africa it became a matter of urgency to have him arrested,” Dreyer explained.

The state prosecutor also told the court that an official extradition can take up to 60 days legally and that American officials are currently working on sending the full documentation package to South Africa, before adding that the initial provisional request sent by the Americans was accompanied by a sworn affidavit provided to the Pretoria magistrate by an American official involved in prosecuting Chang.

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