Mozambique and the United States seek to extradite Ex minister Manuel Chang from South Africa

Mozambique has requested that South Africa extradites its former Finance Minister, Manuel Chang, who was arrested and detained in Johannesburg after a United States District Court in New York found him guilty of defrauding United States investors.

According to Manuel Chang’s chief defence lawyer, Rudy Krause, Mozambique extradition request is dated January 10. Chang was arrested at Johannesburg airport and has been in South African police custody since December 29, 2018.

J.J. du Toit, South Africa’s deputy director of public prosecution confirmed in Kempton Park Magistrate Court, saying, “We have received an extradition request from the Attorney General of the Republic of Mozambique that should be analysed.”

This is not the first extradition request for Chang that South Africa has gotten. The first request was from the United States who issued an arrest warrant on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud.

In 2016, three ex-Credit Suisse Group AG bankers (Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh, and Detelina Subeva), Manuel Chang and Jean Boustani (a contractor to the Mozambican companies) arranged secret government-guaranteed loans totalling $2 billion for the supposed financing of a tuna-fishing fleet and maritime surveillance project.

The U.S, however, discovered that the $2 billion government guaranteed loans went to fraudulent companies Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), and  Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), which were fronts that the men used to launder money.

Following the double extradition request, Krause stated that the court may take a decision on the US extradition request but the request from Mozambique could complicate matters. “I think the South African authorities will now have to decide which of the two countries they will extradite Chang to.”

Lawyer Elisio de Sousa thinks otherwise. According to him, the Mozambican request for extradition should not go ahead because bilateral agreements must prevail over multilateral, thereby giving priority to the United States.

“Mozambique has extradition agreements with all of the SADC. However, there is a special extradition agreement with the United States, and in a very technical way, the first request to be served would be the American one. We should note the US has an extradition agreement with South Africa. The final rules dictate that bilateral agreements should prevail over multilateral agreements,”  says De Sousa. Meanwhile, Chang’s lawyers say he will oppose the application for his extradition.

At the previous court hearings, Chang’s legal team had applied, unsuccessfully, for bail. The bail attempts were unsuccessful because, according to Kraus, the United States had requested that South Africa deny Chang bail as he is a flight risk.