Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang should be extradited to the United States to face theft charges involving a missing US$2 billion loan allegedly abused in the country.
This was ruled by a South African court on Monday, 8 April 2019.
While the decision was a blow to Chang’s legal team, which pleaded to the court that it wanted its client to face the charges in Mozambique, the ruling constituted a mere recommendation to South Africa’s justice minister who has the final approval to carry out the decision.
Chang has been in South African custody after his arrest at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in December following a United States request for his alleged involvement in the multibillion dollar loan scam that US authorities said was fraudulently obtained from that country.
Chang signed for the loan which was guaranteed by the Mozambican government but the transaction was not publicly disclosed during his time as finance minister, according to court records.
Mozambique’s subsequent acknowledgement of the undisclosed borrowing prompted donors to cut off support, triggering a collapse of the local metical currency.
The same court will also consider Mozambique’s request for Chang’s extradition to Maputo, and make a similar judgement on whether Chang could be extradited to his country.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha would then have the final say on where Chang should be extradited – the US or Mozambique.
South African foreign minister Lindiwe Sisulu has previously said Chang should be sent back to Mozambique – a move that would undoubtedly annoy President Donald Trump’s regime.