Mozambique ex-president's son denies enabling hidden debt

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  • Ndambi Guebuza is among 19 high-profile defendants facing trial in a high security prison in Maputo.
  • The defendants are alleged to have links to a 2013 corruption case known as the "hidden debt" scandal.
  • Ndambi is accused of receiving $33 million from an international shipbuilding group.

The son of Mozambique's ex-president Armando Guebuza on Monday denied allegations he took bribes to facilitate a $2 billion secret government loan that plunged the southern African country into financial crisis.

Guebuza's eldest son Ndambi is among 19 high-profile defendants facing trial in a high security prison in the capital Maputo over alleged links to a 2013 corruption case known as the "hidden debt" scandal.

He is accused of receiving $33 million from an international shipbuilding group, Privinvest, to convince his father, who was president at the time, to approve corrupt maritime projects.

In 2013 and 2014, three public companies secured $2 billion in state-guaranteed loans from international banks to buy a tuna-fishing fleet and surveillance ships, which they contracted to Privinvest.

An independent audit later found that $500 million of the loans, which were kept hidden from parliament, remains unaccounted for.

Privinvest has previously denied wrongdoing.

Wearing a black coat over his orange prison uniform, Ndambi was the third suspect to testify on Monday, one week after the 43-day trial started.

"I have never received money from Privinvest," he told judges, claiming he had no knowledge of emails presented in court as evidence of his involvement.

ALSO READ | Why the extradition of Mozambique's former finance minister is on hold

Ndambi also denied meeting Antonio Carlos do Rosario, a former director of Mozambique's intelligence unit and head of the three state-owned groups, during a 2012 trip to Privinvest shipyards in Germany and Abu Dhabi.

"I went to visit a petrochemical company... (and) hear business opportunities," he said.

His 78-year-old father attended the hearing in a grey suit and blue shirt, occasionally taking notes.

He is due to be heard as a declarant in coming days.

The loan scandal surfaced in 2016, prompting donors such as the International Monetary Fund to cut off financial support, triggering sovereign debt default and currency collapse.

Ndambi was arrested in February 2019.

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