Manuel Chang finally on way to the US after FBI kept waiting due to red tape delays
The former Mozambican finance minister lefty Lanseria Airport on Wednesday following the delay caused by a bureaucratic hitch.
Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang is finally airborne, en route to New York to stand trial for fraud and corruption.
South African authorities handed Chang over to officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at Lanseria Airport on Wednesday morning and he boarded a US Department of Justice Gulfstream jet which took off mid-morning, heading northwest.
The FBI officials had been in South Africa since Saturday and had expected to collect Chang and take off on Monday. But a bureaucratic hitch delayed the handover and take-off until Wednesday, officials said.
South Africa’s Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services confirmed that South Africa’s law enforcement agencies had “successfully surrendered Mr Manuel Chang to the United States of America on July 12, 2023”.
It described the legal process which followed Chang’s arrest at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 December 2018, including the Johannesburg High Court’s order of November 2021 that Chang should be extradited to the US and not to Mozambique (as Justice Minister Ronald Lamola had ordered) and culminating in the Constitutional Court’s decision of May 2023, denying the Mozambique government leave to appeal the high court judgment, citing “a lack of reasonable prospects of success after reviewing an application for condonation and an application for leave to appeal”.
Chang was incarcerated in South Africa for more than four years since his arrest.
He is due to stand trial on charges arising from a 2013/14 deal in which, as finance minister, he signed off on two loans totalling about $2-billion from Credit Suisse bank and Russia’s VTB Capital bank to Mozambique to buy a fleet of tuna trawler ships and patrol boats. The envisaged tuna fishing industry never materialised and the US Justice Department alleged that from the start the scheme was merely a scam to elicit funds used to pay bribes to Chang and many others.
The US claimed jurisdiction because it said many US citizens had been defrauded when they invested in the two loans in the secondary market. DM
This article was updated at 12.20pm on 12 July 2023.