Mozambique's disgraced ex finance minister could face extradition to the US from South Africa 

Mozambique has withdrawn appeals against a South African court decision not to extradite its former finance minister, Manuel Chang, who is wanted in relation to a $2 billion debt scandal that derailed his country's economy. Chang, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in South Africa in December at the request of the United States while Mozambique also requested his extradition. This sparked a legal battle over where he should be sent. The former finance minister's resignation last year, paved the way for him to face charges in his home country in relation to fraud. Chang served as finance minister when Mozambique took on $2 billion of foreign debt in 2013 and 2014 to finance a tuna fishing-boat fleet and maritime-surveillance project. Chang was arrested in South Africa in December at the request of the US Justice Department, after it filed charges related to the debt scandal, alleging he signed papers on behalf of the government of Mozambique to guarantee the debts if the projects didn’t pay off. Mozambique then followed with its own application. He remains in custody after South Africa’s justice ministry learned that his lawmaker status prevented him from prosecution. Chang said he doesn’t oppose being sent to Mozambique to face charges but would fight extradition to the States. The Mozambique Attorney General's Office said in a statement that it would withdraw its appeals at both South Africa's Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to allow South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, who now has the final call, time to re-examine the case. The Constitutional Court is the highest court in the country, dealing exclusively with constitutional matters, while the SCA is the highest court when it comes to other cases. Last year, South Africa's then justice minister, Michael Masutha, said Chang should be surrendered to Mozambique. But a South African High Court ruled in November that the decision should be set aside and reviewed by the minister's successor, Lamola. The US charges relate to loans obtained from Credit Suisse and Russia's VTB bank during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister. Mozambique has not formally charged him and this has prompted civil society organisations to argue that he should be sent to the States.

0 comments