Follow the money

Mozambique’s hidden debt scandal: Where did the $2bn go?

By Marie Toulemonde

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Posted on October 22, 2021 06:45

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Mozambique’s “hidden debt” scandal is one of the biggest corruption scandals on the continent and involves some of the highest-ranking government officials. This case, part of which is currently at the centre of a resounding trial in Maputo, is particularly complex.

In 2016, Mozambique realised it was facing the biggest corruption scandal it had ever known. Now, five years later, the trial has finally opened in Maputo. Since 23 August, the 19 Mozambican defendants – including the son of the former president, Armando Ndambi Guebuza – have appeared before Judge Efigenio Baptista. The latter is presiding over the hearings, which are due to be held until 2 December at a prison in the capital. Filipe Nyusi, the current president, who was minister of defence at the time of the events, is cited by several of the accused as a key figure in the case. However, he will not appear before the court and continues to deny any involvement.

The scandal has plunged the country into an unprecedented financial crisis. It was caused by three Mozambican companies that secretly and illegally took out a loan of more than $2bn – $2.7bn, which was guaranteed by the state, according to the Maputo judicial court.

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