HIDDEN DEBTS: NO EVIDENCE AGAINST NINE ACCUSED
Maputo, 4 Dec (AIM) – There is no evidence of crimes committed by nine of the 19 people accused before the Maputo City Court in the case of Mozambique’s “hidden debts”, declared judge Efigenio Baptista on Saturday.
This was the fourth day of Baptista reading out his verdict, which runs to almost 1,400 pages. For more than three days, he concentrated on the evidence for crimes committed by such figures as the former General Director of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), Gregorio Leao, his deputy, the former head of Economic Intelligence, Antonio Carlos do Rosario, and Ndambi Guebuza, the oldest son of former President Armando Guebuza.
But on Saturday he switched to the evidence, or lack of it, for crimes committed by lesser figures.
In particular, he dismissed the case against three employees of the Africambios foreign exchange bureau, Naimo Quimbine, Kessuage Pulchand and Simione Mahumane.
For while there is little doubt that Africambios was used for money laundering, this was hardly the fault of the bureau’s staff. People involved in the “hidden debts” scandal, such as Gregorio Leao’s wife, Angela, and her associate Fabiao Mabunda, had used Africambios to change money and cash cheques, the ultimate source of which were the bribes paid to Mozambican officials by the Abu Dhabi based group Privinvest.
The Africambios staff, said Baptista, did not know where the money came from, and simply carried out instructions given by the top management of the bureau.
Businessman Sidonio Sitoe was selling an unfinished house in Jonasse, on the outskirts of Maputo, to Angela Leao. Baptista believed he had no reason to question Leao about the origins of the money she was using, and so he too was in the clear.
Anabela Buque Henning is Angela Leao’s sister, and she too was involved in real estate dealings. But he judge could find no sign that she was aware of the Privinvest bribes.
Elias Moiane is the adopted son of Ines Moiane, the former private secretary of President Guebuza, who did take money from Privinvest. But Baptista thought he did not know that the money came from illicit sources.
“He was not involved in the actions of the group that drew up the coastal protection scheme, and the plan to take bribes”, said the judge.
Similarly with Cremildo Manjate. He was certainly involved financially with Gregorio and Angela Leao, but Baptista believed he had been unaware of the bribery scheme.
Earlier on Saturday, Baptista concluded the evidence against the main conspirators. He claimed that, when Ndambi Guebuza refused to share his portion of the bribe money with Leao and Rosario, this led to a rewriting of the initial contract with Privinvest, to increase the sums available for bribes.
The money, of course, did not come from Privinvest, but was part of the loan from the bank Credit Suisse to the fraudulent Mozambican security company, Proindicus.
The contract between Proindicus and Credit Suisse was amended twice in 2013. The supposed aim of the contract was to purchase equipment from Privinvest for the protection of the Mozambican Exclusive Economic Zone. But Baptista believed the real purpose was to make more money available to pay off powerful Mozambican officials.
Privinvest greatly over-invoiced Proindicus for the patrol boats and other assets it provided, and the over-invoicing made more money available for bribes.
“It is easy to conclude that the motive for altering the initial contract of Proindicus was the refusal of Ndambi Guebuza to share the 50 million dollar bribe with Gregorio Leao and Antonio Carlos do Rosario”, said Baptista. “With the financing contract already signed, the only way they found to obtain additional bribe money was to alter the supply contract and hence the financing contract”.
This plan, Baptista said, involved not only the Mozambican conspirators but also senior Privinvest official Jean Boustani, and Credit Suisse negotiator Andrew Pearse.