In a moment of unprecedented transparency about Mozambique’s ‘biggest scandal in recent times’ Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho Do Rosario gave a press conference shortly after the previous edition of Mozambique Politics & Security had gone to press on the country’s recently-revealed debt alongside Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane and Minister of Fisheries and the Sea Agostinho Mondlane.
Maleiane answered questions from reporters about the ownership of the three companies which took out the loans – EMATUM, ProIndicus, and MAM – which, he muttered, all basically belong to the intelligence services. He insisted, but without much conviction, that they would repay their own loans insofar as they were taken out for commercial purposes. That which was borrowed in the public interest would be repaid by the government, the prime minister explained.
It was not a good day for the lenders, who are now coming under increasing pressure. From the start, Credit Suisse has denied being involved in an arms deal. But former defence minister Mondlane told the press conference the government could not go public on what was a defence procurement deal. He confirmed, moreover, that the contracts for ProIndicus and MAM had gone, without a tender, to the same company that supplied EMATUM: Abu Dhabi Mar.
Mozambique Politics & Security now understands that an investigation may have been started by the UK police into the banks’ side of the deal. If so, it would be a public relations coup for the UK government, which is this week hosting an international anti-corruption conference. The event got off to an embarrassing start following UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments about ‘fantastically corrupt’ Nigeria and Afghanistan.
Mozambique’s government will surely be pleased to see some of the heat shifting onto the banks. Today’s reports, that a senior banker involved in structuring the deals moved from Credit Suisse to Abu Dhabi Mar’s parent company at the same time as over US$1 billion made the same journey, will probably be picked up by the local press. That could shift some of the popular outrage away from the government and onto international actors.