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The son of the former president of Mozambique and 10 others imprisoned for corruption

Nineteen people, including state security officials, have been tried in a “hidden debt” scandal that tanked the country’s economy.

A Mozambique court has sentenced the son of a former president, two former spy chiefs and eight others to years in prison for their part in a corruption scandal in which the government tried to hide huge debts, wreaking financial havoc.

All 11 were found guilty and sentenced Wednesday on charges related to a $2 billion “hidden debt” scandal that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in government-backed loans to disappear and collapsed the southern nation’s economy. from Africa.

Nineteen people, including state security officials, were tried on charges including money laundering, bribery and blackmail; the remaining eight were acquitted by the Maputo court.

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Armando Ndambi Guebuza, the son of former President Armando Guebuza, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while other convicts were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years.

“Armando Ndambi Guebuza did not show any remorse for committing the crime and maintains that he has been targeted for political reasons,” said Judge Efigenio Baptista of the Maputo City Court.

“Ndambi still does not believe that he has misbenefited from the $33 million that the Mozambican people so badly need.”

Two senior intelligence service officials, Director General Gregorio Leao and the head of the economic unit, Antonio Carlos do Rosario, were also sentenced to 12 years in prison each.

Leao and do Rosario were found guilty of embezzlement and abuse of power, while Ndambi Guebuza was convicted of embezzlement, money laundering and criminal association, among other charges.

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The judge said that those convicted had helped with their actions to impoverish the people of Mozambique.

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“The defendants tarnished the country’s good image abroad and in international markets, with lasting effects that are difficult to repair,” he said.

The scandal arose after state-owned companies in the impoverished country illegally borrowed $2 billion in 2013 and 2014 from international banks to buy a tuna fleet and patrol boats. The government masked the loans from parliament and the public.

When the “hidden debt” finally came to light in 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors cut off financial support, causing a sovereign debt default and currency collapse.

An independent audit found that $500 million of the loans had been diverted. The money remains unaccounted for.

Former President Guebuza, who was in office when the loans were arranged, testified at the trial but was not seen in court on Wednesday.

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Wearing a black sweater over an orange prisoner’s jumpsuit, her son stood up as the judge handed down the verdict.

During the process, Baptista said that Ndambi Guebuza acted deliberately “to influence his father” and get the government to approve the purchase of the boats.

He accepted a $33 million bribe that went to satisfy his “desire for luxury,” the judge said, listing some of the assets the former president’s son bought with the money. They included luxury cars and a 10 million rand ($590,000) mansion in neighboring South Africa.

In addition to being sentenced to prison, the young Guebuza was sentenced to pay a fine of 162,000 meticais ($2,500).

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The trial began in August of last year and lasted until March. It was broadcast live on local radio and television stations.

Dozens of people, including anti-corruption activists and civil activists, sat in the courtroom, a makeshift facility set up under a white canopy to accommodate the defendants, their lawyers and other parties.

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The debt scandal exposed corruption on a global scale and sparked legal cases on three continents. Swiss bank Credit Suisse was fined $475 million last year for its role in issuing the loans.

Former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, who signed the loans, has been held in South Africa since 2018, pending extradition to the United States for allegedly using the US financial system to carry out the fraudulent scheme.

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