The judge in the main hidden debts case said on Thursday that no evidence had been found that Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi or his predecessor Armando Guebuza received money from the Privinvest group, an entity accused of paying bribes.

Baptista was speaking during questioning of the former Director-General of the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE) and defendant in the hidden debts case, Gregório Leão.

The judge interrupted Leão’s testimony after the accused complained once again that he was the only former member of the Operational Command and the Joint Command of the Defence and Security Forces on trial in the hidden debts case.

As then National Defence Minister, Filipe Nyusi was the coordinator of the Operational Command of the Defence and Security Forces, while Armando Guebuza led the meetings of the Joint Command as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Defence Forces of Mozambique (FADM).

The judge in the case advanced that justice traced the accounts of Armando Guebuza, his wife, Maria da Luz Guebuza, and the couple’s two sons and daughter (already deceased), and found evidence that only Armando Ndambi Guebuza, the eldest son, received $33 million (€28.4 million) from the Privinvest Group.

“In the court records, we have the tracing of accounts of the entire Guebuza family. Their lawyers can confirm it,” he said.

The magistrate said that no evidence of illicit payments had been found for Alberto Mondlane, the then interior minister, who is also a member of the commandos.

The former director of SISE ironically questioned whether any evidence of bribes had been found in his accounts, to which the magistrate replied that the reason for his indictment was because evidence had been found of a transfer of US$8.9 million (7.6 million euros) from the Privinvest group to his wife, Ângela Leão.

“She, having no [working] relationship with Privinvest and having relations with you, of marriage in general communion, acquired assets [with Privinvest money] and the conclusion is that the money is hers, but she could not appear [as a beneficiary of the transfers],” he emphasised.

The Mozambican public prosecutor’s office believes that the Privinvest group, a shipyard company based in Abu Dhabi, transferred bribe money to a construction company that did work for the Leão family – MMoçambique Construções.

The construction company is said to have passed on the money, paying for expenses related to construction work on real estate owned by the family of the former director-general of SISE.

Leão has constantly referred to the commanders of the Mozambican Defence and Security Forces because it was these entities that approved the project for the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone that justified the mobilisation of the money from the hidden debts.

Today was the last day of the hearing of the former director-general of SISE, whose questioning began on Monday.

After Gregório Leão’s hearing, former director of SISE’s Economic Intelligence António Carlos do Rosário will be heard, the last of the 19 defendants in the main hidden debts case to be questioned in the ongoing trial.

The Mozambican justice system accuses the 19 defendants in the main case of the “hidden debts” of having formed a “gang” and defrauded the Mozambican state of US$2.7 billion (€2.28 billion) – a figure that is higher than the US$2.2 billion so far known in the case – raised from international banks through guarantees provided by the government.

The ‘hidden debts’ were contracted between 2013 and 2014 from the British subsidiaries of investment banks Credit Suisse and VTB by Mozambican state companies Proindicus, Ematum and MAM.

The loans were secretly endorsed by the Frelimo government, led by the president of Mozambique at the time, Armando Guebuza, without the knowledge of parliament or the Administrative Court.

Source: Lusa