United States ‘greatly disappointed’ in SA decision to extradite former finance minister to Mozambique, not US

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And Mozambican budget watchdog suspects Chang will now evade prosecution for alleged massive corruption.

The US government has expressed “great disappointment” that South Africa has decided to extradite Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang back to his own country rather than to the US to face massive fraud charges.

And civil society organisations in Maputo suspect that Chang will evade charges in Mozambique for alleged complicity in a huge shipping contract scam which cost the country some US$2-billion.

“We urge the Government of South Africa to send Mr Chang to the United States to stand trial for these alleged crimes, which victimised US citizens and robbed the Government of Mozambique of over $700-million,” Robert Mearkle, spokesperson for the US embassy in Pretoria, told Daily Maverick.

Mearkle said the US embassy had noted “with great disappointment” the statement by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha announcing that Pretoria intended to extradite him to Mozambique. This was “despite having received our formal extradition request before that of the Republic of Mozambique”, Mearkle said.

He added that the US embassy was holding discussions with the South African government and exploring options for a review of the decision.

Chang was arrested at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on 30 December 2018 on an Interpol warrant issued on behalf of the US, which also asked Pretoria to extradite him to the US.

There he faces charges with several other suspects of complicity in a US$2-billion fraud and money laundering scheme involving loans to the Mozambique government purportedly to buy fishing and military patrol ships in 2013 and 2014.

The Mozambique government later asked Pretoria to extradite him to Mozambique instead. In April, the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court ruled that Chang could be extradited to either country, leaving it to Pretoria to decide where he went.

Masutha said in his statement on Tuesday that after considering several factors, including both the US-SA extradition treaty and the Southern African Development Community protocol on extraditions, “I am satisfied that the interest of justice will be best served by acceding to the request by the Republic of Mozambique.”

In Maputo, Jorge Matine, coordinator of the Forum for Monitoring the Budget, expressed doubts that Chang would now face real justice in Mozambique. He noted that Parliament, dominated by Chang’s ruling Frelimo party, had recently refused a request from the country’s Supreme Court to lift the immunity against prosecution which Chang enjoys as a member of Parliament.

He also told Daily Maverick it was odd that South Africa had decided to extradite him to Mozambique when the two countries had no extradition treaty, rather than to the US which did have an extradition treaty with South Africa. He was also puzzled that Pretoria would risk jeopardising its relations with the US by doing this.

He also suggested that the timing of the extradition to Mozambique was politically convenient for Frelimo as corruption and the fraudulent shipping deal, which nearly bankrupted the country, were likely to figure prominently in the October presidential and parliamentary election campaign.

Other civil society watchdogs in Mozambique have more forthrightly stated that, by bringing Chang home, Frelimo would be better able to smother any revelations of corruption by other officials which Chang might reveal if he stood trial in the US.

There are strong indications that more senior figures in the Mozambique government than Chang were also implicated in the huge fraud.

Mearkle said that the US had sought Chang’s arrest and extradition because he was accused of carrying out a $2-billion (nearly R$28-billion) fraud and money laundering scheme that had taken advantage of the US financial system and defrauded US investors.

Chang, 63, was Mozambique’s Minister of Finance from 2005 until 2015. According to the US indictment against him, he conspired with other Mozambique officials, some employees of the Swiss bank, Credit Suisse and an executive of the French-based ship manufacturing company Privinvest to raise US$2-billion in loans, mainly from Credit Suisse but also from the Russian VTB bank in 2013 and 2014 to finance the purchase of a fleet of fishing trawlers and patrol boats for the Mozambique government.

The US charge sheet says the alleged conspirators never intended the shipping projects to succeed and had concocted the whole deal to siphon off the loans into their personal bank accounts. Chang allegedly took US$12-million. The ships are all rusting or otherwise grounded and the Mozambican people never derived any visible benefits from the alleged scam.

In an article for iol.co.za, former Unisa professor of international law Andre Thomashausen has alleged that South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had “gullibly accepted” a written assurance from the head of Mozambique’s prosecuting authority that Chang’s parliamentary immunity against prosecution had been lifted. Thomashausen said the NPA had conveyed this assurance to the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on 8 April 2019, when it was deliberating whether or not Chang could be extradited to Mozambique.

Thomashausen said this assurance was false as the immunity only covered temporary detention for questioning and not prosecution. He said the Mozambican authorities had, after years of inactivity, only opened an investigation into Chang – without charging him- after his arrest in South Africa and the US extradition request.

He said it was likely that, if returned to Mozambique, Chang would be briefly detained for questioning and then released because his parliamentary prosecution would prevent the authorities from prosecuting him.

South African Justice Minister Masutha said in his statement that before making his decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique rather than the US he had considered that he was a Mozambican citizen and that his alleged offence had been committed while he was a Mozambican minister of state.

He had also considered the “onerous debt for Mozambique as a result of the alleged fraud” and Chang’s own request to be extradited to his home country. And he had considered the interests of both the US and Mozambique and the seriousness of the alleged offence.

“I have noted that the request by the United States of America was submitted a few weeks prior to that of the Republic of Mozambique,” Masutha said.

“However, having considered the matter in its full context, taking into account the criteria contained in both the US-SA Extradition Treaty, on the one hand, and the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition, on the other, as well as the relevant facts, I am satisfied that the interest of justice will be best served by acceding to the request by the Republic of Mozambique.

“I have decided that the accused, Mr Manuel Chang, will be extradited to stand trial for his alleged offences in Mozambique.” DM

Vintage images of famous landmarks (Supplied by MSN) 

Big Ben, London, England (circa 1892)

Slide 1 of 55: Westminster Bridge, London, with the Palace of Westminster and the clocktower of Big Ben in the background, circa 1892. (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, US (1937)

Slide 2 of 55: San Francisco, California: May, 1937 The nearly completed Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the Presidio with the Marin Headlands in the background. The workers' safety netting can still be seen hanging under the roadbed on parts of the bridge.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India (circa 1950)

Slide 3 of 55: The Taj Mahal, a Mughal mausoleum situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, circa 1950. (Photo by Dinodia Photos/Getty Images)

Mount Fuji, Japan (1895)

Slide 4 of 55: Fujiyama, The Sacred Mountain, from Jedzumi Village', Japan, 1895. View of Mount Fuji, which at 3,776.24 metres (12,389 feet) is the highest volcano in Japan. From "Round the World in Pictures and Photographs: From London Bridge to Charing Cross via Yokohama and Chicago". [George Newnes Ltd, London, 1895]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (circa 1955)

Slide 5 of 55: circa 1955: The statue of Jesus stands on the summit of the Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty Images)

White House, Washington, DC, US (1908)

Slide 6 of 55: The north portico of the White House, Washington D.C., USA, 1908. From The Story of the White House, volume I, by Esther Singleton, published by Hodder and Stoughton (London, 1908). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada (1964)

Slide 7 of 55: CANADA - JANUARY 01: Parliament Buildings At Parliament Hill In Ottawa In Canada On 1964 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Palace of Versailles, Paris, France (1871)

Slide 8 of 55: Prussian military police parade in front of the Palace of Versailles at the occupation of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War on 6 January 1871 at Paris, France. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy (1954)

Slide 9 of 55: ITALY - CIRCA 1954: Rome (Italy). The fountain of Trevi (1762), by Niccol? Salvi, architect. May 1954. RV-109438. (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France (1889)

Slide 10 of 55: Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars seen from Trocadero Palace, Paris Exposition, 1889. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)

The Palace Museum, Beijing, China (1957)

Slide 11 of 55: An archive photo taken on May 1, 1957 shows a parade to celebrate International Workers' Day on Tienanmen Square in beijing. Background can be seen Tiananmen gate tower to the Forbidden City north of Tiananmen Square with a portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong. In the People's Republic of China, 1 May marked the start of one of the country's three "Golden Weeks". Three days off work were given, and one of the surrounding weekends is for no more than three days. AFP PHOTO (Photo by ARCHIVE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ARCHIVE/AFP/Getty Images)

Uluru, Australia (1977)

Slide 12 of 55: Dock Smith Lasseter's Reef Expedition. Ayers Rock as seen on the flight. September 18, 1977. (Photo by Pearce/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

Statue of Liberty, New York City, US (1898)

Slide 13 of 55: The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island, New York, New York, 1898. (Photo by Geo. P. Hall & Son/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images)

Kōtoku-in, Kamakura, Japan (1895)

Slide 14 of 55: The Great Daibutsu', Kamakura, Japan, 1895. People sitting on the 13th century monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, a famous icon of Japan, at Kotoku-in temple, Kamakura. From "Round the World in Pictures and Photographs: From London Bridge to Charing Cross via Yokohama and Chicago". [George Newnes Ltd, London, 1895]. Artist W & S Ltd. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)

Parliament of Finland, Helsinki (1931)

Slide 15 of 55: (Limited rights for certain editorial clients in Germany.) The Finnish Parliament Building in Helsinki. Architect: Siren1931 (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Niagara Falls, New York, US (circa 1890)

Slide 16 of 55: View of Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist tour boat in the foreground, Niagara Falls, New York, circa 1890. The American Falls and then Bridal Veil Falls are at the left with Horseshoe Falls at the right rear. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Plaza de la Victoria (now Plaza de Mayo), Buenos Aires, Argentina (1895)

Slide 17 of 55: Plaza de la Victoria, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1895. The Argentine Independence monument, known as the Pirámide de Mayo, was built in 1811, the year after the revolution against Spanish rule in Argentina. From "Round the World in Pictures and Photographs: From London Bridge to Charing Cross via Yokohama and Chicago". [George Newnes Ltd, London, 1895]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)

Sagrada Família cathedral, Barcelona, Spain (1939)

Slide 18 of 55: The Cathedral Of The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona, 1939 (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet (1965)

Slide 19 of 55: Lhasa: A picture released by Chinese official news agency in August 1965 with a caption saying: "New buildings are going up at the foot of the Potala Palace (in the background, the former home of the Dalai Lama) in Lhasa. The total floor space of new housing built in Lhasa since liberation 15 years ago has more than doubled the floor space of pre-liberation days". In March 1959, there was an unsuccessful armed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule. As a result, the Dalai Lama, the head of Tibet's Buddhist clergy and thus the region's spiritual leader, fled with some 100,000 supporters to northern India, where a government-in-exile was established. The Chinese ended the the former dominance of the lamas (Buddhist monks) and destroyed many monasteries. Tibet (Xizang), occupied in 1950 by Chinese Communist forces, became an "Autonomous Region" of China in September 1965, but the majority of Tibetans have continued to regard the Dalai Lama as their "god-king" and to resent the Chinese presence, leading to intermittent unrest. (Photo credit should read JU SHUI-CHU/AFP/Getty Images)

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark (1957)

Slide 20 of 55: 30th May 1957: The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Derek Berwin/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Colosseum, Rome, Italy (circa 1865)

Slide 21 of 55: The Flavian Amphitheatre or Colosseum in Rome, with the Arch of Constantine on the right and Meta Sudans (a small conical brick fountain) in the centre, circa 1865. (Photo by Sean Sexton/Getty Images)

US Capitol, Washington, DC (circa 1910s)

Slide 22 of 55: Exterior of the Capitol building with women and children gathered outdoors, Washington D.C., 1910s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Flatiron Building, New York City, US (1902)

Slide 23 of 55: Flatiron Building, New York City, New York, USA, Detroit Publishing Company, 1902. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Netherlands (1958)

Slide 24 of 55: 4th April 1958: The Royal Palace in Dam Square, Amsterdam. (Photo by George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey (1921)

Slide 25 of 55: FEB 2 1921- THE MOSQUE OF ST. SOFIA, CONSTANTINOPLE.

Bryce Amphitheatre, Utah, US (1955)

Slide 26 of 55: Bryce Canyon In Utah, 1955. (Photo by Al Greene Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Gateway of India, Bombay (now Mumbai), India (circa 1900)

Slide 27 of 55: A view of the Gateway to India in Bombay, India. Circa 1900.(Photo by American Stock Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, US (1922)

Slide 28 of 55: A crowd gathers for the dedication ceremony of the Lincoln Memorial on May 30, 1922 to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy (circa 1960)

Slide 29 of 55: FLORENCE, ITALY – CIRCA 1960: The Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in the Italian City of Florence, Italy, circa 1960 . (Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany (circa 1960)

Slide 30 of 55: (GERMANY OUT) Germany Berlin (West) Charlottenburg - 'Charlottenburg' palace. - around 1960 (Photo by Herbert Maschke/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, France (late 19th or early 20th century)

Slide 31 of 55: Notre Dame de Paris, France, late 19th or early 20th century. The Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was begun in the 12th century. The western facade was built between c1200 and 1225. Stereoscopic card. Detail. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Cappadocia, Turkey (1939)

Slide 32 of 55: (Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) Turkey - Anatolia: mountainside near Uchisar, houses for breeding pigeons in the rocks - Photographer: Bernd Lohse- Published by: 'Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung' 26/1939Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by Bernd Lohse/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Sanchi Stupa, India (circa 1920-60)

Slide 33 of 55: Carved decoration of the Northern gateway to the Great Stupa of Sanchi, a site of Buddhist pilgrimage, India, circa 1920-1960. (Photo by American Stock Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Machu Picchu, Peru (circa 1930)

Slide 34 of 55: Ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, circa 1930. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Sydney Opera House, Australia (1955)

Slide 35 of 55: A sky line in of buildings and skyscrapers including the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, 1955. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia (1959)

Slide 36 of 55: People bundled up against the cold winter weather outside the St. Basil's Cathedral. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Berlin Cathedral Church, Germany (1936)

Slide 37 of 55: (GERMANY OUT) Germany Berlin - View to the bridge 'Schlossbruecke' and the Berlin Cathedral during the Olympic Games - August 1936 (Photo by Wolff & Tritschler/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia (circa 1910)

Slide 38 of 55: View of the Angkor temple (Cambodia). Ca. 1910. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace, London, England (circa 1895)

Slide 39 of 55: The East Front of Buckingham Palace, London, circa 1895. The East Front was redesigned by Sir Aston Webb in 1913. (Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Giant’s Causeway, Ireland (1976)

Slide 40 of 55: Giants Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1976. (Photo by Noel Habgood/Keystone/Getty Images)

Times Square, New York City, US (circa 1908)

Slide 41 of 55: Times Square, New York City, USA, circa 1908

Château de Chambord, France (circa 1913)

Slide 42 of 55: Chateau de Chambord, Chambord, France, circa 1913

Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem (1926)

Slide 43 of 55: Side View of Al Aqsa (el Aksa) Mosque Jerusalem. . Unattributed Photograph in Palestine and Transjordania by Ludwig Preiss and Paul Rohrbach, 1926

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey (circa 1935)

Slide 44 of 55: circa 1935: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy (circa 1949)

Slide 45 of 55: Two men strolling past the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy, circa 1949. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

Tower Bridge, London, England (circa 1894)

Slide 46 of 55: LONDON, ENGLAND - CIRCA 1894: Opening day for the brand new Tower Bridge. (Photo by Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Germany (1955)

Slide 47 of 55: Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, 1955. (Photo by Harold M. Lambert/Getty Images)

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, US (circa 1940)

Slide 48 of 55: Bay Bridge near San Francisco, California, circa 1940. (Photo by American Stock Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Westminster Abbey, London, England (1922)

Slide 49 of 55: Exterior view of Westminster Abbey and the Westminster Column, United Kingdom, 1922. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France (circa 1895)

Slide 50 of 55: Arc de Triomphe, Marseilles, France, Albumen Photograph, circa 1895. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany (1893)

Slide 51 of 55: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1893. Illustration from Portfolio of Photographs of Famous Cities, Scenes and Paintings, (The Werner Company, Chicago, c1893). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Great Wall of China (1920)

Slide 52 of 55: CHINA - 1920: The Great Wall of China. (Photo by Mansell/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Victoria Falls, between Zimbabwe and Zambia (circa 1960)

Slide 53 of 55: circa 1960: The Victoria Falls (Mosi oa Tunya) on the borders of Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia) and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) where the Zambesi river plunges 108 metres (355 ft). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Borobudur Temple, Java, Indonesia (circa 1880)

Slide 54 of 55: The Borobudur or Barabudur temple (Java, Indonesia). Ca. 1880. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)

Grand Canyon, Arizona, US (1923)

Slide 55 of 55: The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River Arizona From Yarapai Point 1923

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