Former Credit Suisse bankers arrested in London over $2bn loans to Mozambique

Reacting to the news that three former Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested in London, as part of a US investigation into $2 billion of loans to Mozambique, Tim Jones, policy officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign said:

“This is another welcome step in holding those responsible for the debt crisis in Mozambique to account. The investigation is likely to reveal further evidence of how these loans were used to defraud the people of Mozambique. The Mozambique people should not have to repay one cent on a debt they had no say over and no benefit from.

“It is scandalous that it has required action from the US authorities for this investigation and arrests to be made in London. It was the London branches of Credit Suisse and VTB which lent the $2 billion, yet there has been a shocking lack of action taken by UK authorities in holding them to account.”

Campaigners from Jubilee Debt Campaign protesting against Credit Suisse’s secret loans to Mozambique, outside their office in Canary Wharf, London

The Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO) in Mozambique have released a statement in response to the arrests which says:

“FMO believes that the US initiated process is an opportunity for Mozambicans to get full disclosure on the illegal debts … FMO also expects that this is a beginning of a global process, which will culminate in holding all responsible parties accountable for their respective roles in this crisis … Recent developments confirm our long standing position that the $2.3 billion debt was illegal as it violated the Mozambican legislation.”

“Recent arrests validate our position as outlined in a previous statement that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should pursue criminal sanctions against Credit Suisse for the role played by the UK regulated Bank in Mozambique’s illegal debt crisis. We remain dismayed by the approach adopted by the UK authorities and lawmakers in holding Credit Suisse accountable for its actions.”

“The arrest of three Credit Suisse bankers should embarrass the FCA, as it shows that the FCA decision failed to fulfil the organization’s basic statutory standards, and suggests that UK regulators did not apply the necessary due care in handling the Mozambican debt case. We expect the FCA to reconsider their decision and continue to pursue action against UK regulated entities implicated in this scandal.”

Credit Suisse has said in a statement: “The indictment alleges that the former employees worked to defeat the bank’s internal controls, acted out of a motive of personal profit, and sought to hide these activities from the bank.”

Tim Jones reacted to this saying:

“Credit Suisse has to face up to its own responsibility in this case. It is Credit Suisse which lent money to three companies with no income, and without the approval of the Mozambique parliament. Credit Suisse should immediately drop its debt claim against the Mozambique people, and call on other owners of the debt to do the same. Any owners of the debt who feel that they have been wronged should pursue the money from the individuals and banks responsible, not the people of Mozambique.”

Former Mozambique Finance Minister Manuel Chang was arrested in South Africa on 29 December. Three former Credit Suisse employees, Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh and Detelina Subeva, were arrested in London yesterday. They have been charged in an indictment in Brooklyn, New York federal court with conspiring to violate U.S. anti-bribery law and to commit money laundering and securities fraud. They have been released on bail in London while the United States seeks extradition. Jean Boustani, who worked for the Abu Dhabi based contractor in the case Privinvest, was arrested in New York on Wednesday.

In November 2018 the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority dropped its criminal investigation into the case.

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