Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang, currently under house arrest in South Africa, will be extradited to the United States to face trial over the $2 billion scandal, a court ruled on Wednesday.
Chang has been held in South Africa since 2018 at the request of US officials over his alleged involvement in a “hidden debt” case involving loans to the Mozambican government. The repercussions of the loans plunged the poor country into its worst financial crisis and pushed hundreds of thousands into poverty.
“Mr Manuel Chang is to be surrendered and extradited to the United States to stand trial for his alleged crimes,” South African High Court Judge Margaret Victor ruled.
She said that Chang is “accused of corruption of the highest order.”
The loan was taken by the Mozambican government when Chang was finance minister in 2013 and 2014, supposedly to buy a new fleet of tuna fishing and maritime security vessels.
Hidden from parliament and undeclared to the country’s international donors, the loans amounted to 12 percent of the GDP of one of the world’s poorest countries.
The United States asked to arrest him while he was in South Africa because a portion of the money went through the American financial system.
He was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on December 29, 2018 while on his way to Dubai.
The Mozambican government also said he should be extradited to Maputo, where 19 suspects, including the son of former President Armando Guébuza, are facing trial in the same case.