Mozambique finance minister’s lawyers insist his detention is illegal

US dollars. Picture: Twitter

US dollars. Picture: Twitter

Manuel Chang has been in custody as an investigation into the alleged fraudulent loans continues.

Mozambique’s finance minister, Manuel Chang, intends to fight his extradition to the US over allegations of fraudulent loans involving over $2 billion, with his lawyers arguing that his detention in South Africa is illegal, according to media reports.

The finance minister has been in detention since December 29 as an investigation into the loans continues. Chang has vigorously denied the allegations and his lawyers have demanded he be released.

At a court appearance in Johannesburg on Tuesday, under the escort of four armed police officers, his lawyer, Willie Vermeulen, alleged the warrant ordering his client’s arrest was in effect unlawful as no extradition request had been received by the South African authorities from the United States.

Chang oversaw Mozambique’s finances when it failed to disclose government guarantees for $2 billion in international borrowing by state-owned firms, Reuters reported.

As a result of the undisclosed lending, the International Monetary Fund and foreign donors cut off support to the southern African country, triggering a currency collapse and a default on its sovereign debt.

Also implicated in the alleged fraud, according to Washington, are three former Credit Suisse bankers and the lead salesman of Abu Dhabi-based holding company Privinvest.

Attempts to extradite them continue.

Meanwhile, 18 other Mozambican citizens have been indicted by the attorney-general’s office which says it also intends to see that those charged in the US face charges at home.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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