A Mozambique’s ex-finance minister, identified as Manuel Chang, had been denied bail , he has been in jail since December under an international arrest warrant issued by the United States.
He was arrested at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on December 29 on a US extradition request over his alleged involvement in $2 billion of fraudulent loans to state firms.
Mozambique has also issued an extradition request for Chang on suspicion of financial misconduct.
He has made several court appearances in South Africa to challenge his detention, and on Friday, a court in Kempton Park near Johannesburg refused him bail.
“I cannot concede bail to the applicant as it would not be in the interest of justice,” ruled magistrate Sagra Subroyen.
The magistrate also expressed concern that Chang, whose passport has been confiscated, could obtain other travel documents and skip the country.
The allegations against Chang relate to a massive government debt that came to light in 2016.
It is alleged the government in Maputo had taken out loans amounting to $2-billion to buy a tuna-fishing fleet and surveillance ships, but hid the transaction from parliament and international donors.
An independent audit found that a quarter of the loan amount was diverted, and unaccounted for.
The United States alleges at least $200 million was spent on bribes and kickbacks, including $12 million on Chang, who allegedly signed off on debt guarantees.
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