Mon, 27 May 2019

Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang has been denied bail by the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Sagra Subroyen said that releasing Chang on bail would undermine SA's criminal system.

Chang was detained at OR Tambo International Airport on December 29, 2018, while he was making his way to Dubai.

The former finance minister will now have to wait to hear whether he will be extradited to the US when he returns to court on February 26.

The US had asked SA to provisionally arrest Chang over his alleged involvement in financial crimes totalling $2bn (R27.8bn).

The US also accuses Chang of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering during his tenure as minister of finance between 2005 and 2015.

The NPA had argued that Chang was a flight risk, and would flee to his home country should he be granted bail.

The magistrate said Chang failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was a suitable candidate for bail.

Mozambique lifts immunity of ex minister held in SA

The former minister argued, during his bail hearing, that his detention was unlawful and that his extradition, if carried out, would also be illegal.

Subroyen said that the hearing was in line with South African Constitution, and ordered that the hearing continue to be heard under a schedule 5 offence.

"The applicant is a person of influence, and may very well have his way in returning to his home country, despite his travel documents being handed in to relevant officials," said Subroyen.

"He may be tempted to flee".

Chang also submitted that he would not afford the R200 000 bail, saying that it may exhaust his savings.

But Subroyen said that the former minister failed to make his financial standings available to court for consideration, and also took note of the luxurious trip to Dubai during which Chang was detained.

"Seemingly for his protection, the applicant played his cards close to his chest, and could have said more to exonerate himself."

Meanwhile, Mozambique has also requested that the ex-finance minister be extradited.

Five officials, linked to Chang's alleged crimes, were recently arrested in Mozambique.

Among those arrested are Gregorio Leao, ex-director of the intelligence services, and Ines Moiane, a former assistant of former president Armando Guebuza.

AFP on Thursday reported that businessman Teofilo Nhangumele, accused of introducing secret service officials to a company which went on to sell surveillance ships and a tuna-fishing fleet to the government, was also detained.

READ MORE: Former Mozambican finance minister looks for loopholes in SA legal system to get his freedom

The group is alleged to have been part of a scheme who benefited from loans from the USA, which never made it to the country's coffers, plunging it into a financial crisis.

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