Arrested former Mozambican finance minister to continue fight against extradition to US

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Manual Chang.
Manual Chang.

Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang is expected to continue his fight against extradition to the US in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court in Ekurhuleni on Wednesday.

Chang briefly appeared in the same court on Tuesday, where he argued that his detention was unlawful and that his extradition, if carried out, would also be illegal.

On the charge sheet the US accuses Chang of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

READ: The banker bros who bankrupted Mozambique

All three counts combined have a maximum imprisonment of 45 years, a prison term Chang is likely to face, should he be convicted.

In an urgent request for extradition to the South African judiciary, the US said the investigation into Chang began in 2016.

It revealed that, through a series of financial transactions between 2013 and 2016, Chang and his alleged co-conspirators arranged more than US$2bn (R27.8bn) in fraudulent loans from international investment banks to state entities, purportedly controlled by the Mozambican government.

"The loans were supposed to fund maritime projects that would benefit Mozambique, but a significant portion of the funds were corruptly diverted," read the letter from the US justice department.

READ MORE: Former Mozambique finance minister claims arrest at OR Tambo airport was unlawful

It is understood that Chang and his alleged co-conspirators used only a portion of the loan proceeds toward the actual maritime projects.

The Mozambican government has defaulted on the loan repayments amounting to up to $700m, to date, leaving investors exposed to millions in losses.

Chang was on his way to Dubai when he was arrested on December 30 at OR Tambo International Airport in terms of a US warrant of arrest.

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