Who is Manuel Chang?
Former Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Mozambique
Manuel Chang was a Mozambican economist and politician of the FRELIMO party. From 2005 to 2015 he served as the Minister of Economy and Finance in President Armando Guebuza’s cabinet. He replaced Luísa Diogo as Finance Minister in February 2005.
On Monday 23rd Aug. South Africa extradited former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang to his home country, where a criminal trial over the $2 billion debt scandal that crashed its economy has now begun.
Chang, who denies wrongdoing, and 19 others including state security officials and a former president’s son face charges including blackmail and embezzlement for their alleged roles in the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars in government-backed loans.
A total of $2 billion in borrowing was ostensibly raised for a project spanning tuna fishing, shipyard development and maritime security. But vast sums were paid out in kickbacks, authorities say, while many promised benefits never materialized.
Chang, who signed off on the loans during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister, has been held in South Africa since 2018 after being arrested at the request of the United States, which also opened a criminal case over the affair.
Mozambique also subsequently requested his extradition, prompting a court battle that ultimately left the decision in the hands of Ronald Lamola, the justice minister.
Lamola decided to return Chang to Mozambique after concerns over whether he was immune from prosecution were resolved, Lamola’s ministry said in its statement.