UPDATE 1-Swiss prosecutors open investigation into Mozambique loan scandal

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ZURICH, June 5 (Reuters) – The Swiss prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the $ 2 billion loan scandal that has plunged Mozambique into a debt crisis, the attorney general’s office (OAG) said on Friday.

“The OAG opened criminal proceedings in February 2020 for suspicion of money laundering in connection with the granting of loans to state-owned enterprises in Mozambique,” he said in an emailed statement. , confirming a report from the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper.

“Criminal proceedings are being carried out against strangers. “

Credit Suisse was one of the lenders that helped organize $ 2 billion in government-guaranteed loans between 2013 and 2016 to develop Mozambique’s coastal defenses, maritime fleet and tuna fishing industry.

But hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared in what US officials claimed was an elaborate front for a bribe and bribe program, and the scandal sparked a currency collapse and a default on debt.

Credit Suisse, three former bankers, two intermediaries and three Mozambican government officials have faced court cases and investigations spanning London, New York, South Africa and now Switzerland.

Swiss prosecutors on Friday said their investigation followed various reports of suspicious activity they received from Switzerland’s Money Laundering Communications Office, at a 2018 MLA request from Mozambique. and a criminal complaint.

They noted that the outcome of the proceedings remained uncertain and that they were not leading any proceedings against specific natural or legal persons.

The Swiss anti-corruption lobby Public Eye filed a criminal complaint against Credit Suisse with the bureau last year.

“As the BVG press release notes, the investigation is directed against strangers. CS is cooperating with all authorities investigating these matters, ”said Credit Suisse.

Mozambican authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields and Nick Macfie)

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