Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in court during an extradition hearing in Johannesburg in this photo taken on January 8 2019. Picture: REUTERS/SHAFIEK TASSIEM/FILE PHOTO
Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in court during an extradition hearing in Johannesburg in this photo taken on January 8 2019. Picture: REUTERS/SHAFIEK TASSIEM/FILE PHOTO

Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang will be extradited to his home country where he is wanted on charges related to a $2bn debt scandal, justice minister Michael Masutha said on Tuesday.

Chang has been in custody in SA since December, when he was arrested at the request of the US for his alleged involvement in $2bn of borrowing that US authorities say was fraudulent.

During his time as finance minister, Chang signed off on the loans, which were guaranteed by the government though some of them were not disclosed. Mozambique’s subsequent acknowledgement of the undisclosed borrowing prompted donors to cut off support and triggered a currency collapse.

Masutha had to decide whether to have Chang extradited to Mozambique or the US following requests from both countries.

“I am satisfied that the interest of justice will be best served by acceding to the request by the Republic of Mozambique,” Masutha said in a statement.

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

Masutha said he considered in his decision that Chang was a citizen of Mozambique and he had requested to be extradited to his home country, among other things. 

The US embassy in Pretoria expressed Washington's “great disappointment” at the decision.

In the US, Chang faces charges of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud, financial security violations and money laundering.

However, Mozambique welcomed the move. "This is a free and sovereign decision," Mozambique foreign minister Jose Pacheco said in an interview with the local daily O Pais.

Mozambique has arrested several other suspects linked to the scandal, including the son of former president Armando Guebuza, and senior intelligence officials.

In January, three former Credit Suisse workers were arrested  and charged over the allegations.

On Monday Detelina Subeva, a former vice-president in the bank’s global financing unit,  pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder funds.

Reuters, Bloomberg