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5 charged in maritime projects scheme in Mozambique

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. prosecutors charged five people Thursday in a $2 billion fraud involving sham naval, fishing and other projects meant to benefit the African nation of Mozambique.

An indictment made public in federal court in Brooklyn names Manuel Chang, Mozambique’s former minister of finance, as one of the defendants. Prosecutors say Chang was arrested and detained in South Africa last week pending the outcome of an extradition request.

Also charged were a negotiator on the deal, Jean Boustani, and three former Credit Suisse bankers, Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh and Detelina Subeva. Mozambique’s mission to the United Nations and defense lawyers had no immediate comment Thursday.

The charges stem from an investigation of three companies created to complete projects for Mozambique that would provide “coastal surveillance,” aid for tuna fishing and shipyards.

As part of the scheme, three companies were formed to borrow more than $2 billion in loans guaranteed by the Mozambique government between 2013 and 2016, the indictment says. “The proceeds were supposed to be used exclusively for the maritime projects,” it says.

“In reality,” it adds, “the defendants created the maritime project as fronts to enrich themselves and intentionally diverted portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others.”

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