South Africa: Former Mozambican Finance Minister Faces Extradition to U.S. After Failed South African Court Bid

Ryan Rayburn / IMF, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Manuel Chang (file photo).

By Andre van Wyk

Cape Town — South Africa’s Constitutional Court has blocked an attempt by former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang to stop his extradition to the U.S. where he faces charges of grand corruption and the plundering of state resources relating to a U.S.$2 billion sovereign debt scandal, News24 reports.

Chang sought to appeal a ruling handed down in November 2021 in the Gauteng High Court where Judge Margaret Victor overturned a prior ruling by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola who elected to extradite Chang back to Mozambique. A warrant of arrest was issued for Chang who was apprehended in December 2018 while he was in-transit at OR Tambo International Airport. In January 2019, the U.S. called on South Africa to extradite Chang to stand trial in the U.S.

The financial scandal around Chang resulted after Mozambican state-owned companies illicitly borrowed over U.S.$2 billion between 2013 and 2014 from international banks for shipping fleets that included tuna-fishing and surveillance vessels. The Mozambican government kept information of the loans hidden from the public and parliament, but news of the lost funds arose in 2016 which triggered a sovereign debt default and currency collapse.

According to Eyewitness News, an independent audit found U.S.$500 million of the funds were diverted and remains unaccounted for.

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