A court in Mozambique sentenced two former espionage bosses and the son of a former president to 12 years in prison on Wednesday for their roles in a corruption scandal where the government tried to hide massive debts, causing financial chaos.
Gregorio Leao, the former head of security and intelligence, Antonio do Rosario, the head of the security service’s economic intelligence division, and Ndambi Guebuza, the son of the former president Armando Guebuza, were among the 19 defendants charged in the biggest corruption scandal in the nation.
“The crimes committed have brought consequences whose effects will last for generations,” said Judge Efigenio Baptista.
The crisis started when state-owned businesses in the poor nation illegally borrowed $2 billion (1.9 billion euros) from foreign banks in 2013 and 2014 to purchase a tuna-fishing fleet and surveillance vessels.
The public and parliamentary loans were concealed by the government. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors withdrew financial support after the “hidden debt” was ultimately revealed in 2016, which led to a sovereign debt default and currency collapse.
A unbiased audit discovered that $500 million of the loans had been misappropriated. The funds are still missing.
Handing down the sentence following after a week of reading the verdicts, the judge said the scam “aggravated the impoverishment of thousands of Mozambicans.”
“The country became famous for the worst reasons,” he said.
Leao and do Rosario were found guilty of corruption and abuse of power, while Guebuza was convicted for embezzlement, money laundering and criminal association among other charges.
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