Mozambique ex-president’s son jailed for 12 years for graft

Mozambique ex-president’s son jailed for 12 years for graft

A court in Mozambique sentenced the son of an ex-president and two former espionage bosses to 12 years in prison on Wednesday for their roles in a corruption scandal where the government tried to hide massive debts, causing financial chaos.

Gregorio Leao, the former head of security and intelligence, Antonio do Rosario, the head of the security service’s economic intelligence division, and Ndambi Guebuza, the son of the former president Armando Guebuza, were among the 19 defendants charged in the biggest corruption scandal in the nation.

In a verdict that took the court a week to read, eight defendants were found not guilty. However, the other defendants received sentences ranging from 10 to 12 years.

“The crimes committed have brought consequences whose effects will last for generations,” said Judge Efigenio Baptista. He said this while addressing a packed courtroom located on the grounds of a high-security jail in the capital Maputo.

The crisis started when state-owned businesses in the poor nation illegally borrowed $2 billion (1.9 billion euros) from foreign banks. The money was borrowed in 2013 and 2014 to purchase a tuna-fishing fleet and surveillance vessels. The government masked the loans from parliament and the public.

Read more: Portugal begs Mozambique for forgiveness over massacre by her colonial masters/

When the “hidden debt” finally surfaced in 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors cut off financial support. It also triggered a sovereign debt default and currency collapse.

An unbiased audit discovered that $500 million of the loans had been misappropriated. The funds are still unaccounted for.

Handing down the sentence, Baptista said the scam had “aggravated the impoverishment of thousands of Mozambicans.”

“The country became famous for the worst reasons,” he said. “As high officials of the state they should have been (its) guardians.”

Leao and do Rosario were found guilty of embezzlement and abuse of power; while Guebuza was convicted of embezzlement, money laundering and criminal association, among other charges.

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