JOHANNESBURG – Mozambique has asked for the extradition of ex-finance minister Manuel Chang, who is detained in South Africa on US charges over a corruption scandal in his home country, a Johannesburg court heard on Friday.
The unexpected petition means Mozambique and the United States both want to extradite Chang, who was arrested at Johannesburg airport for his alleged involvement in $2-billion of fraudulent loans.
“We have received an extradition request from the Attorney General of the Republic of Mozambique that should be analysed,” J.J. du Toit of the South African public prosecutor’s office told Kempton Park Magistrate Court.
The US was the first to request his extradition, alleging that Chang received $12-million to agree to signing a loan deal for supposedly financing a tuna-fishing fleet and maritime surveillance project.
About $200-million was spent in an international web of bribes and kickbacks, according to the US indictment.
The arrest of Chang, who is still a lawmaker for Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party, has fuelled anger at home over the scandal ahead of elections expected in October.
President Filipe Nyusi was defence minister when the loans were agreed and he signed important contracts over the deals.
Human Rights Watch specialist Zenaida Machado questioned Maputo’s extradition request.
“Before the US arrest warrant, Chang was not wanted at home. Suddenly state prosecutors want him in Maputo,” said Machado on Twitter.
She added that 18 other accused people in Maputo have not been arrested.
Three former employees of Credit Suisse have been arrested on the US charges in London for possible extradition after being charged in New York.